New drought preparedness program in the United States

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration announced an interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities better prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on livelihoods and the economy.

Responding to requests from communities, businesses, and farmers and ranchers, the National Drought Resilience Partnership will make it easier to access Federal drought resources, and will help link information such as monitoring, forecasts, outlooks, and early warnings with longer-term drought resilience strategies in critical sectors such as agriculture, municipal water systems, energy, recreation, tourism and manufacturing.

In its first year, the Partnership will focus on creating a new, web-based portal to ease access to Federal agency drought recovery resources, hosting more frequent regional drought outlook forums that provide access to experts and locally relevant information, supporting the coordination of a national soil moisture monitoring network to help improve monitoring and forecasting drought conditions, and identifying a single point of contact for the public. In collaboration with local, state and regional governments, the Partnership will also undertake a pilot project in a western area hard hit by drought to create a local-scale drought resilience plan that could be applied in other areas.

Climate change influences the frequency and intensity of events such as droughts, storms, floods, and wildfires, impacting communities nationwide.

The National Drought Resilience Partnership follows President Obama’s November 1st Executive Order on “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change,” a key step under his Climate Action Plan that created a Task Force of state, local and tribal leaders to advise the Administration on steps the Federal Government can take to help communities increase preparedness, and committed Federal agencies to examining their programs and policies to make it easier for states and communities to build resilience against storms, droughts and other weather extremes.

The Partnership also builds on existing federal efforts and the White House Rural Council’s work to help communities, farmers, ranchers and producers stay resilient in the face of disaster.

Spearheaded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), members of the National Drought Resilience Partnership will coordinate the delivery of Federal Government policies, programs, information and tools designed to help communities plan for and respond to drought. Other partners in this effort include the Department of the Interior, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

About two-thirds of the continental United States was affected by drought in 2012, impacting water supply, tourism, transportation, and near shore fisheries, with an estimated $30 billion in losses to the agriculture sector alone, and an additional $1 billion in losses from wildfires.

As part of White House Rural Council efforts, USDA chaired a National Disaster Recovery Framework effort to help communities respond to the 2012 drought, including hosting four regional listening forums to hear from communities directly.

Source | NOAA News

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