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The National Drought Mitigation Center has had a strong international component since it was established, building on the earlier success of the International Drought Information Center.

The NDMC works across the United States and the world, as shown by shading on the map. Countries in darker blue are places we worked in 2018.

2018 Activities


  • NDMC Director Mark Svoboda was an invited expert and traveled to Bonn in February to collaborate with other SPI members in an effort to translate current scientific research into key policy recommendations. He returned in October to continue work on the project. 
  • Svoboda was invited to speak at the national geospatial conference in March, during which experts discussed how Earth observation technology can impact New Zealand in terms of industry, environment and climate. Svoboda also met with government officials and private sector parties during the visit.
  • Svoboda attended the 2018 World Water Forum, a gathering for water experts, water managers and organizations from around the world that are involved with water issues. “Among other aspects, water as a human right to life was discussed, as well as investments in technology and water security, adaptation actions to climate change, water use in agriculture and energy consumption,” according to a WWF recap of the March event.
  • NDMC staff, including Mark Svoboda, Deborah Bathke, Brian Fuchs, Tsegaye Tadesse and Curtis Riganti, attended the spring meeting, which focused on trilateral advances in the North American Drought Monitor.
  • Assistant Director Kelly Helm Smith represented the NDMC at the GlobeDrought workshop for stakeholders taking place in Bonn, Germany, in May. The GlobeDrought project aims to develop, test and implement a global drought information system for comprehensively characterizing drought events and their impact on water resources, crop productivity, food trade and the need for international food aid. It is one of 12 projects funded under “Global Resource Water (GROW),” part of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
  • Svoboda gave a keynote talk at the International Asian Drought Forum, which was held during the grand opening of the Korean National Drought Information and Analysis Center. Svoboda and Jae-Young Park of Korea Water Resources Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding between the National Drought Mitigation Center and K-water following the event. Additionally, Svoboda gave a day-long training workshop on drought early warning and risk management to K-Water staff.
  • NDMC Climatologist Deborah Bathke and Assistant Director Kelly Helm Smith represented the center at this workshop to identify critical drought impacts to island systems. The workshop was co-sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, the Department of the Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center, and the USDA’s Caribbean Climate Hub.
  • Social scientist and NDMC planning coordinator Cody Knutson and former NDMC Director Michael Hayes co-led a workshop to provide feedback to experts conducting vulnerability assessments in the region as part of a project funded by the ICBA and the USAID. Svoboda visited Dubai later in the year and conducted a high-level drought risk management policy workshop with the ICBA team and partnering countries to work on a regional drought management system in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Svoboda attended the August event, and participated as part of the center’s USAID Middle East North Africa (MENA) project. The theme for the event, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), was “Water, Ecosystems and Human Development.” Svoboda also attended side meetings of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the World Meteorological Organization’s Integrated Drought Management Program meetings while in Stockholm.
  • NDMC’s Tsegaye Tadesse, a climatologist and remote-sensing expert, traveled to Addis Ababa to lead training sessions and participate in the Ethiopian Space Science & Technology Institute’s research scientist program meetings in September.

2017 Activities


  • NDMC director Mark Svoboda was a speaker at the International Tropical Agriculture Conference, TropAg 2017, held in November in Brisbane, Australia. The 2017 conference theme was “high impact science to nourish the world”. While in Australia Svoboda also consulted with livestock producers at the University of Southern Queensland.
  • In October NDMC and partners NASA, Addis Ababa University, and Ethiopia’s Meteorological Society and National Meteorological Agency presented a workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia about Seasonal Prediction of Hydro-Climatic Extremes for the Greater Horn of Africa for agencies and organizations working on predicting and managing climate extremes in the region.
  • Mark Svoboda served on the advisory committee of the World Meteorological Organization’s Integrated Drought Management Program, based in Geneva, Switzerland, and run by the WMO and the Global Water Partnership.
  • Mark Svoboda gave the keynote presentation at the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Conference on Drought Management and Preparedness held in Santa Cruze de la Sierra, Bolivia in August. The conference was co-hosted by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the Bolivian government.
  • NDMC climatologist and remote sensing expert Tsegaye Tadesse was the keynote speaker and a panelist at the International Agro-meteorology Conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July. The theme of the conference for researchers, policymakers, educators, NGOs, and others was “Climate Information for Climate Resilient Agriculture: Enhancing Agro-meteorological Services to Build Climate Resilient Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia.”
  • NDMC collaborated with researchers from Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom as part of DrIVER project to investigate connections between drought, vulnerability thresholds, and impacts. The Belmont Forum one of the project funders, also hosted a final meeting for the project in Freiburg, Germany.
  • NDMC and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture conducted a Drought Vulnerability Assessments Training Workshop in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to train experts from many countries in the region as part of a project funding by USAID.
  • NDMC conducted drought planning writeshops in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Saint Lucia with the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology to improve regional drought resilience.

2005-2016 Activities


  • Provided assistance to the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology to conduct "writeshops" on Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Kitt's and Nevis,  to help residents of those islands and other eastern Caribbean nations enhance drought resilience.
  • Led  workshops on drought planning and management in Jordan, Morocco and Tunesia for stakeholders participating in the Middle East and North Africa project.
  • Worked with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture in Dubai, UAE to help transfer a new, composite drought index to open-source programming, paving the way for countries to tailor it to their own needs.
  • Hosted drought impact and indicator workshops in North Carolina and Australia and contributed to a workshop in the United Kingdom to help prepare for drought and anticipate impacts using the Drought Impacts: Vulnerability thresholds in Monitoring and Early Warning Research (DrIVER) project.
  • Collaboration with the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies, also based at UNL, the University of Maryland, College Park, and several Moroccan ministries on a World Bank-funded project that led to creation of the Morocco Composite Drought Index in 2015.
  • Consultation for United Nations agencies such as the World Meteorological Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, USAID, the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and others. The NDMC's founding director, Dr. Donald Wilhite, was one of the organizers of the High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy, March 11-15, 2013.
  • Facilitation of a National Drought Policy Capacity Building Workshop for the Asia/Pacific region, held in Hanoi, May 6-9, 2013.  Similar capacity building workshops were given in August 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for East Africa, and another for West Africa.  A workshop for Central and Eastern Europe was held in July 2013, and another for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Brazil in December 2013.
  • Serving on the World Meteorological Organization and Global Water Partnership's joint initiative, the Integrated Drought Management Programme. Mike Hayes, former NDMC director, is on its advisory committee, and Wilhite chaired the initiative’s advisory and management committees. Wilhite developed the National Drought Management Policy Guidelines: A Template for Action,  published by the IDMP. The IDMP maintains a list of drought strategies on its website, and is sponsoring regional pilot programs for Central and Eastern Europe, for the Horn of Africa, and for West Africa.
  • Participation in efforts to build the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), launched at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and by the Group of Eight.
  • Working with the European Commission on MEDROPLAN, to develop drought preparedness guidelines for the countries in the Mediterranean region.
  • Working with other regional and national drought centers. Don Wilhite, founding director of the NDMC, served as a consultant to help establish a Drought Management Center for Southeast Europe, hosted by Slovenia.
  • Welcoming visiting scientists and students from around the world. Past visitors have included Jaroslav Vido, a Ph.D. student from Slovakia, studying the impacts of drought on selected ecosystems; Jinsong Wang, from the Institute of Arid meteorology in Lanzhou, China, who was studying drought monitoring and impact issues; and Linda Botterill, an Australian drought policy expert.
  • Organizing and hosting a December 2009 workshop in Lincoln, Nebraska, for experts from around the world to select a single index as the global standard for monitoring meteorological drought. The NDMC participated in follow-up workshops on hydrological and agricultural drought indexes that were held, respectively, in Geneva, Switzerland, and in Murcia, Spain.
  • Collaborating with Canadian and Mexican authors to produce the North American Drought Monitor.
  • Collaborating with a group of scientists in the Czech Republic and Austria to enhance understanding of drought and soil climates, climate change and climate variabiilty.
  • Making presentations, consulting or and conducting workshops on drought monitoring and planning in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Jordan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
  • Conducting training on the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI). The NDMC has distributed the SPI to more than 150 scientists in 60 countries around the world.