[ASC-media] Media release: planning for worse droughts
jca.media at starclass.com.au
Sun Aug 13 11:59:18 CEST 2006
International Association of Agricultural Economists 26th Conference
Gold Coast Convention Centre, Qld, Australia
August 12-18, 2006 ph 07 5504 4057
Monday, August 14, 2006
THE WORLD'S 'CINDERELLA' DISASTER
With drought likely to intensify in many parts of the world under climate change, careful planning is needed to limit its impact - rather than belated aid measures driven by "emotion and public outcry".
This warning will be sounded today (Monday) at the International Association of Agricultural Economists conference on The Gold Coast today by Australian agricultural economist Dr Jock Anderson, a visiting research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
In a major session on drought at the conference, Dr Anderson argues that drought is still the world's "Cinderella disaster", and that measures to diminish its worst effects exist but are often not adopted as widely or well as they should be.
"A distinguishing mark of a good drought policy is that (it) swings into action as needed, without requiring political largesse, yet provides no disincentives for farmers to plan for natural disasters," he says.
Climate monitoring and sensing technology now makes early warning of drought and its onset more feasible - allowing some actions to be taken in a timely manner, he says.
Despite this, drought is still too often the "Cinderella disaster", not receiving the proper forethought required. Too often responses were driven, after the event, by orchestrated media coverage of calamities which could have been lessened by better planning.
"Disasters result when an extreme natural or technological event coincides with a vulnerable human settlement," Dr Anderson says.
"Reducing disaster risk requires that all stakeholders change their perceptions and behavior to place a higher priority on safety in planning and development.
"Effective risk reduction involves mitigation measures in hazard-prone areas, especially in developing countries.
"In addition to employing scientific and technical knowledge, risk reduction may also involve overcoming the socioeconomic, institutional and political barriers to the adoption of effective risk reduction strategies."
He concludes that the possibilities for better policy and responsive and responsible actions by government in drought "management" seem bright, and that technology can help ease the pain of many (but not all) droughts if greater effort is made to adopt it.
The International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE) 26th Annual Conference on "The Contribution of Agricultural Economics to Critical Policy Issues" is at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, Qld, from August 12-18, 2006.
The session on drought takes place today, August 14, from 1pm-245pm.
IAAE media centre, Gold Coast Convention Centre, +61 (0)7 5504 4057
Dr Jock Anderson, visiting senior research fellow, IFPRI
Media contact: Prof. Julian Cribb, 0418 639245
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