Drought causes adverse impacts on ecosystems, agriculture, and socio-economic conditions, threatening the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit, threatening developmental gains and efforts of countries to sustainably reduce poverty. Rapid advances in technology can be used to empower the poor through big data, non-traditional data and space applications. Earth observation and fast emerging digital technologies offer great hope for progress and development and can be used in combination with surface-based observations to capture transboundary impacts and origins of disasters.
Drought resilience is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda as achieving the SDGs will depend on building resilience into policies and programmes. Geospatial information applications provide unforeseen solutions to mapping, analysing and visualising natural hazards, which can aid decision makers in making timely and accurate decisions. This publication explores ESCAP’s Regional Drought Mechanism, which provides a tailored and customized toolbox of data, products and services to support countries in building their capacity to apply earth observation-based risk information for managing drought risk, ultimately building resilience to drought. It is a flagship programme of ESCAP under the Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development (RESAP) designed to enhance the capacity of governments to use space-based data for effective drought monitoring and early warning. Since its launch in 2013, the Regional Drought Mechanism has achieved key results through the cooperation of service nodes and pilot countries. This publication includes examples from Mongolia, Cambodia and Myanmar. Important lessons have been learned and improvements made through all the activities and iterations of the Mechanism in various country contexts. The experience gained and operational tools and systems developed will be replicated in other countries as requests arise and tailored to address their specific needs. Additionally, this publication includes an annex of operational drought systems, tools, and resources.
Space technology applications play a crucial role for addressing drought, disaster risk reduction, and supporting implementation of the SDGs. The Regional Drought Mechanism is a practical platform to facilitate the use of science, technology, and cooperation to support the implementation of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific.