National Drought Mitigation Center

An Extension Guidebook to Help Communities Plan for Drought Using Scenario Based Exercises

In times of drought, community and regional water managers must often make decisions on how water is allocated to protect everything from the economy to agronomy to public health. To help with the decision-making process, many communities have put drought plans in place. And over the past decade, as communities have developed or updated those drought plans, water management leaders have increasingly started or furthered the conversation among stakeholders by bringing them to the table to consider realistic what-if scenarios.  

Those scenarios often take the form of a workshop, a tabletop exercise or a game. To help communities decide which type of exercise to choose, the National Drought Mitigation Center, in partnership with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, created an interactive guide, Collaborative Drought Planning Using Scenario Exercises. The project translates existing research on how drought scenario exercises have been used to help communities better prepare for drought into an interactive Extension Guide. Rural communities, which often have limited fiscal resources and a lack of local government capacity, may find these exercises especially beneficial as they create a framework for helping the community to draw up their unique resources -- self-reliant nature, strong sense of community, tightly connected family networks, and knowledge of and ties to natural resources -- to build resilience to drought and increase sustainability.  

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