World Desertification and Drought Day (WDDD), established by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), aims to promote international cooperation and raise awareness about the importance of combating desertification and drought. The WDDD observes annually on June 17 th and it provides an opportunity to engage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals in dialogue and action to address the challenges associated with land degradation. This annual observance serves as a reminder of the urgent need to protect and restore our land resources to ensure sustainable development and enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities.
Understanding Desertification and Drought:
Desertification refers to the process of land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid regions, resulting in the transformation of productive land into desert-like conditions. Drought, on the other hand, refers to a prolonged period of abnormally low precipitation that results in water scarcity, reduced soil moisture, and a negative impact on ecosystems, agriculture, water resources, and socio-economic systems. According to UNESCAP (2020), over the past three decades, drought have affected food security of millions of farming communities in Southeast Asia. The existing drought pattern is likely to see spatial expansions and temporal shifts. Simultaneously, emerging extremes events (such as El Nino 2023) will further aggravate dry conditions and will escalate food insecurity of small-holder farming communities. USDA (2014) highlighted that as the Southeast Asia has a large population, relies heavily on agriculture for its livelihoods, and has a high number of small-holders subsistence farms, any climate-related risks to crop yields could have significant implications for food security.
Gendered Dimensions of Desertification and Drought:
While desertification and drought impact entire communities, women often bear a disproportionate burden. In many societies, women are primarily responsible for securing water, food, and energy resources for their families. As the productivity of the land diminishes, women must travel longer distances to access water, increasing their workload and exposure to potential risk. Furthermore, traditional gender roles often limit women's access to education, information, and decision-making processes related to land management, in exacerbating the challenges they face.
ADPC's Approach to Drought Management and Gender:
Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) adopts a comprehensive approach towards drought management and gender, focusing on proactive measures to reduce vulnerability, enhance preparedness, and build resilience. Gender equality gives women and men the same entitlements to all aspects of human development, including economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights; the same level of respect; the same opportunities to make choices. ADPC’s gender policy represents organizational commitment to gender equality. ADPC’s work aims to improve the lives of both women and men and promote gender equality. ADPC established a clear vision and make commitments to guide the process of gender mainstreaming and women’s’ empowerment to influence policies, procedures and practices which will accelerate the achievement of gender equality in its work. ADPC integrates gender in the mainstream of its work activities, and will set up institutional arrangements, responsibilities, management functions and tools/guidelines for this mainstreaming. ADPC develops and implements cross-sectoral programs and projects on the strategic themes of risk governance, urban resilience, climate resilience, health risk management and preparedness for response and recovery. ADPC collaborates with regional organizations, national governments and mandated institutions, and vulnerable communities across Asia and the Pacific to develop and implement strategies that address the multi-dimensional aspects of drought and its impacts. ADPC’s drought activities aligned towards three pillars for Integrated Drought Management suggested by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) , including; i.) Monitoring and Early Warning; ii.) Risk and Impact Assessment; iii.) Risk Mitigation, Preparedness and Response. ADPC developed it’s Gender Equality Monitoring (GEM) Tool and FIRE Framework . Gender Equality Monitoring (GEM) Toolplatform is developed to address two key issues: gender data gap at sub-national level, and accessibility to gender statistics which is critical to examine and track changes in gender inequality.
Picture 3:Three Pillars of Integrated Drought Management
Source: United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
Some key activities of ADPC in integrated drought management include:
Pillar I: Monitoring and Early Warning;
ADPC supports countries in Asia and the Pacific by assessing, designing, developing and maintaining end-to-end early warning systems (EWS) and impact-based forecasting and warning (IbFW) within a multi-hazard framework that caters to their specific requirements. ADPC’s works aligned towards “Early Warning for All” initiatives and based on four pillars for early warning system suggested by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) including; i.) Disaster risk knowledge; ii.) Detection, monitoring and forecasting of the hazards and possible consequences; iii.) Warning dissemination and communication; and iv.) Preparedness and response capability. ADPC offers its expertise to construct regional and national platforms for data sharing, risk communication, and research efforts from a multi-hazard perspective that encompasses climatic, and hydro-meteorological domains including drought. ADPC continuously develop and innovate products and services to support national and regional efforts towards drought risk management. Mekong Drought and Crop Watch (MDCW) is an integrated web-based information system developed to improve the operational, technological, and institutional capabilities to prepare for and respond to droughts in the region. MDCW can be used to assist local governments and the agricultural sector with seasonal drought monitoring and forecasting and in implementing short and long-term mitigation measures during and in advance of droughts. It can also be used to characterize droughts through accurate, reliable, and timely estimates of their severity and impacts.
Pillar II: Risk and Impact Assessment
ADPC conducts the drought risk assessment to identify, evaluate, and prioritise potential droughts and their impacts that can adversely reduce agriculture production leading to food insecurity. Drought risk assessment process involves identifying potential drought, assessing their likelihood and consequences, and developing strategies to mitigate or manage risks. By analysing historical data, climate patterns, and gender inclusive vulnerability assessments, ADPC assist governments, development partners and communities understand the drought risk in specific regions.
Picture 4:Primary Survey for Drought Risk Assessment in Thuan Bac District and Thuan Nam District in Viet Nam
Pillar III: Risk Mitigation, Preparedness and Response
Regional Cooperation and Policy Advocacy:
ADPC actively engages with governments and policymakers to influence the development and implementation of policies and strategies related to drought management. Addressing desertification and drought requires regional cooperation and collaboration. Regional Consultative Committee on Disaster Management (RCC) is one of the such non-binding regional mechanism to promote peer advocacy and exchange of expertise in disaster and climate risk management. Through research, analysis, and policy dialogues, ADPC advocates for the integration of drought risk reduction and climate change adaptation into national and regional policies. ADPC's efforts aim to foster policy coherence, encourage multi-sectoral collaboration, and ensure the inclusion of women in decision-making processes.
Capacity Building and Training:
ADPC conducts regular capacity building programs and training workshops to enhance the knowledge and skills of stakeholders involved in drought management. These programs aim to strengthen the technical expertise of professionals, policymakers, and community members in various aspects of drought preparedness and response. These programs also empower women with the tools to adapt to changing environmental conditions, promote sustainable practices, and advocate for their rights. Capacity building initiatives focus on seasonal outlook forum, El-nino outlook forum , climate-field schools, climate smart agriculture, drought resilient agriculture, and the implementation of sustainable drought risk management measures.
Community Engagement and Participation:
ADPC recognizes the importance of communities involving women in drought management initiatives. ADPC promotes community-based approaches, empowering local stakeholders to actively participate in planning, implementing, and monitoring drought-related activities. By incorporating local knowledge, traditional practices, and community resilience, ADPC ensures that interventions are context-specific and sustainable. Community engagement initiatives also focus on raising awareness, improving water management practices, and strengthening livelihoods to enhance community resilience to drought. ADPC enhancing drought monitoring in Ninh Thuan provience of Vietnam through earth observation. Ninh Thuan, a province in South-central Vietnam, faces regular severe droughts affecting communities and thousands of households. ADPC developed Mekong Drought and Crop Watch (MDCW) tool to improve the accuracy of drought forecasting and monitoring across the province. ADPC engaged with Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR) and Ninh Thuan provincial authorities, to test the tool for local-level implementation and to build an evidence base for scaling the service
Knowledge Sharing and Partnerships:
ADPC serves as a knowledge hub, facilitating the exchange of information, experiences, and best practices in drought management in Asia and the Pacific. ADPC fosters women lead partnerships with regional and international organizations, academia, and research institutions to promote learning, collaboration, and innovation. Through conferences, workshops, and knowledge-sharing platforms, ADPC contributes to the dissemination of cutting-edge research, successful case studies, and practical tools for effective drought management. ADPC conducts regular training on climate-related loss and damage within climate risk management (CRM) framework. The training aims to raise awareness on the importance of a comprehensive approach to avert, minimize and address loss and damage from climate change and also to quantify the impact of impending droughts to mitigate / minimize risks through risk trasfer. ADPC also conductes training on Impact-based Forecsating and Warning for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) and National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMO) to assist them in quantifying the impacts and linking with hazard forecast and warning.
ADPC implement and promote anticipatory action around Asia and the Pacific, closely working with NMHS and NDMO and other sectoral agencies. Through thses efforts, ADPC also contributes towards three pillars of anticipatory action incuding Defining triggers, Selection of actions, and Financing mechanism.
The World Desertification and Drought Day serves as a powerful reminder of the urgent need to address land degradation, desertification, and drought. ADPC plays a vital role in promoting gender inclusive drought monitoring, forecast and management practices, capacity building, policy advocacy, and community empowerment. By raising awareness, sharing knowledge, and fostering collaboration, ADPC also contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2, 5 and 13).