The National Drought Mitigation Center was preceded by the International Drought Information Center (IDIC), which was founded in September 1988 in the former Department of Agricultural Meteorology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Primary activities of the IDIC, active until 2002, were:
- Creating a guidebook on drought preparedness for developing countries, sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program.
- Organizing and conducting regional training seminars on drought preparedness in developing regions. The IDIC’s seminars were sponsored by organizations such as the UN Environment Program, the World Meteorological Organization, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and were held in Botswana, Brazil, Thailand, Uruguay, and The Gambia.
- Co-sponsoring A Conference on Water Security, held in Washington, D.C., in July 2002, which focused on understanding the impacts of natural and manmade disasters on ground water.
- Co-sponsoring Drought 2000, focusing on impacts, policy, and technology and held October 11-12, 2000, in Des Moines, Iowa.
- Organizing an expert meeting of early warning systems in the context of drought preparedness, Early Warning Systems for Drought Preparedness and Drought Management, with sponsorship by the World Meteorological Organization, Lisbon, Portugal, September 2000.
- Working with international and regional organizations to reduce vulnerability to drought through projects directed at planning, early warning, and mitigation.
- Co-sponsoring and organizing conferences related to drought and water resources management and sustainable development in the United States, including Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Case of the North American Great Plains, held in Lincoln, Nebraska, in May 1995, and Drought Management in a Changing West: New Directions for Water Policy, held in Portland, Oregon, in May 1994.
- Distributing a newsletter, Drought Network News, to scientists and policy makers around the world since 1989.