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Report highlights drought scenario options for planning processes

September 12, 2019

The National Drought Mitigation Center, with support from the National Integrated Drought Information Center, created a resource to help groups select and begin planning a drought scenario-based exercise for their community or organization.

When a drought strikes, the ramifications can be costly. Individuals, communities and the environment can suffer when rain fails and water supplies diminish. Devastating droughts during the last decade have brought increased attention to the slow-creeping natural disaster and prompted more and more communities, stakeholders and agencies to become proactive in their approach to preparing for the next drought.

For many of these groups, holding a drought scenario-based exercise has become a key starting point in developing or updating their drought plans. This year, the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), based at the University of Nebraska, with support from the National Integrated Drought Information Center (NIDIS), created a resource to help these groups select and begin planning an exercise for their community or organization.

These structured, interactive activities let participants plan and manage conditions and events that could evolve during droughts. By using a plausible, hypothetical scenario, exercises offer a risk-free way to learn about drought, experiment with decisions, and build consensus through workshops, table top exercises and games.

Drought Scenario-Based Exercises is an in-depth resource that explains the different types of scenario exercises, their uses, the process for developing them and what outcomes a group can expect to achieve from holding them.

“Planning a drought-based scenario exercise can be an overwhelming undertaking in which you have to consider everything from finances to participants’ availability to the goal at hand,” said Dr. Deborah Bathke, NDMC Education Coordinator, and the lead author of the report. “With this document, we wanted to provide a pathway that helps planners choose a drought scenario-based exercise that meets their needs.”

Drought scenario-based exercises vary in terms of cost, size, scope, complexity and approach. Should you host a daylong event bringing together dozens of community stakeholders to work with models and tools? Or would a game that focuses on discussion be the right choice to help your community prepare for drought? The Drought Scenario-Based Exercises resource can help answer these questions and more. It also features case studies of several scenario-based exercises in action and offers a comparative analysis of their outcomes.

Orchestrating a drought scenario-based exercise can provide your group with an array of valuable outcomes as you build and update drought plans, from public education development to discovering gaps and vulnerabilities to collaborative problem-solving and more. The report offers insight from drought experts that can help you in selecting the right exercise. It is currently available on the National Drought Mitigation Center’s website as a pdf document. Look for an interactive web-based version next year, with support from the North Central Region Water Network and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development.

View the document here

-- by Cory Matteson, NDMC Communications Specialist