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ASEAN Regional Plan of Action for Adaptation to Drought 2021-2025

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Drought frequency, severity, and magnitude have increased in South-East Asia, particularly over the past two decades. Prolonged and severe drought adversely impact agricultural productivity, threatening food security and livelihood of rural households and poor communities. The impact of drought is not limited to water consumption for agricultural purposes but also affects domestic and industrial water consumption, with critical long-term implications on the people and the environment of the region in the social, economic, and environmental aspects such as poverty, agriculture, food security, human development outcomes, ecological integrity (e.g., environmental quality and natural resources, energy, and other economic sectors such as tourism.

ASEAN is facing a double burden of disasters namely the stress of climate change and extreme weather events, as well as the impact of successive droughts compounded by the unprecedented socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the vulnerabilities of specific groups in the population, such as low-income, smallholder farmers and households dependent on agriculture livelihoods, food insecurity, workers in the informal economy and micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs). ASEAN’s population is projected to increase from 661.5 million in 2020 to about 700 million people in 10 years’ time with a corresponding increase in water consumption for agricultural, industrial and domestic purposes.

Cognisant of the impact of drought, the ASEAN leaders, through the ASEAN Declaration on the Strengthening of Adaptation to Drought, supported the strengthening of collaboration between the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), relevant sectoral bodies and stakeholders, to: i) develop an ASEAN Regional Plan of Action for Adaptation to Drought; ii) establish networks and a community of practices for adaptive learning and continuous improvement of drought risk management in different parts of the region, building on the traditional knowledge and local solutions of communities; and iii) mainstream drought risks and disasters into the AADMER Work Programme and other relevant guidelines.

The ASEAN Regional Plan of Action for Adaptation to Drought (ARPA-AD) aims to enhance coordination at the regional and national (international) level for achieving sustainable management of drought by considering the impact of drought on the livelihood of people, natural resources and ecosystem, agriculture, energy, and sustainable socio-economic development. This document was developed following two consultative workshops with active participation by all relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, ASEAN Centres, and ASEAN Member States.

It was developed in line with the guiding principles of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme 2021-2025, which foresees the development of outputs or strategic tangible products through institutionalization; localisation and communication; finance and resource mobilisation; gender and social inclusion; multi-hazards approach; innovation; partnership; and synergy. The future success of ARPA-AD implementation will be complemented by the ongoing work of relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies that address drought adaptation and mitigation.

The ASEAN Regional Plan of Action for Adaptation to Drought consists of nine groups of action covering a full set of drought management cycle, partnership, and coordination on the regional and national levels. The drought management cycle is in line with the three parallel tracks of drought intervention identified in the joint ASEAN-ESCAP study Ready for the Dry Years: (i) reduce and prevent, (ii) prepare and respond, and (iii) restore and recover. The actions that reflect the drought management cycle are composed of (1) risk, impact and vulnerability assessment, (2) early warning system, preparedness and planning, (3) adaptation actions, and (4) response and recovery; while partnership and coordination actions are (5) strengthening coordination between ASEAN sectoral bodies, (6) partnership and collaboration with non-ASEAN partners, (7) capacity-building/enhancement, (8) data sharing and dissemination, and (9) monitoring and evaluation.

The actions are complemented by 26 sub-actions and an implementation plan covering 2021-2025. Nine relevant sectoral bodies are identified that may contribute to the implementation of the ARPA-AD. One of the key recommendations is for the establishment of a Technical Working Group on Adaptation to Drought.