Unlike most natural hazards such as earthquakes and cyclones which can strike quickly, droughts do not usually have a sudden beginning or end. They are an insidious hazard caused by a period of abnormally dry weather, persisting long enough to produce a serious hydrologic imbalance. We need water for many things including human and animal health, growing plants, producing electricity, washing the dishes and cleaning. And while a drought is unlikely to cause human deaths in most developed countries, a drought in a developing country without adequate access to aid can be devastating. In any country, droughts can often be the natural hazard with the biggest economic impact, resulting in very costly and dramatic impacts on the environment such as stock losses, vulnerability to fires (especially in forested areas), crop damage, soil erosion, power black outs if your community is reliant on electricity from hydro dams, and water supply shortages, etc. The severity of a drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, duration, and size of the affected area.
How Natural Hazards New Zealand can help:
To prepare for drought, Natural Hazards New Zealand can help communities and businesses calculate how drought will affect their particular interests or activities. We can then help your community plan for drought, with actions to take before, during, and after a drought event. When your regionís drought hazard and risk has been assessed, we at the Natural Hazards New Zealand (NHNZ) cluster know that good response planning; land-use planning; and community awareness can reduce drought impacts. Plans might include an inventory of an area's water supplies and sourcing new water reserves such as constructing dams or tapping into aquifers, or upgrading your regionís pipelines or canal networks. Your region might consider investing in a modern desalinisation plant to remove salt from sea water, if it is particularly prone to drought. If you are responding to a water shortage, Natural Hazards New Zealand can help with water rationing plans and community education of conservation and recycling of available water supplies.
If your region does not have drought hazard plans in place, or your plans need upgrading, we would like to help.
Natural Hazards Inc. members and their key experts with experience on droughts: