Compared to other extreme events, drought is referred to as the quiet or silent disaster – a slow onset hazard. In the Pacific where most of the islands rely on rain fed water sources, the impacts of drought on our water supply are devastating.
According to a United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Report, 100 drought events occurred in Asia and the Pacific between 1985 and 2013 affecting 1.2billion people and costing USD 52 billion.
These experiences are often accelerated by climate change where the frequency, severity and duration of droughts will likely be more serious in the future.
In 2015, only six months after cyclone Pam, a category 5 cyclone devastated Vanuatu. The country experienced a severe drought associated with a strong El Niño. This triggered issues on water and food shortage around the country especially in the cyclone affected areas.
El Nino occurs when a warm pool of water normally located in the Western Pacific moves to the East Pacific. It can cause drought or below normal rainfall leading to negative impacts in agriculture, water, health and other sectors.
Considering this, the Vanuatu Meteorological Geo-Hazard Division (VMGD) is proactively preparing for possible future drought by undergoing technical training on drought monitoring using a specialised climate forecasting and monitoring tool. This will provide reliable early warning information to the range of sectors, disaster managers and stakeholders including media at a national workshop to be held the 26-27 July, 2018.
“SPREP commends Vanuatu for their proactive and consultative approach to help inform all, this will be beneficial for all that will be impacted by a possible drought given the forecast climate and weather circumstances,” said Ms Tagaloa Cooper- Halo, Director of Climate Change Resilience.
“SPREP is also grateful for the support of our partners in helping Vanuatu with this area, how well prepared we are for possible hazards helps enhance our resilience and can soften the blow caused. We look forward to seeing how this particular activity will help Vanuatu and we also look forward to working with other SPREP Member countries on similar initiatives as required.”
The key objectives of the workshop includes building the capacity of stakeholders to understand climate and weather related products; present and review the Vanuatu Early Action Rainfall Watch for disaster managers and strengthening collaboration between VMGD and its sectors. This is in addition to providing information on drought and related timescale impacts.
Supporting the VMGD is a team of technical experts from Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) under the banner of the Climate and Oceans Support Programme in the Pacific (COSPPac) Project funded by the Government of Australia through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.