Can drought be prevented? Slovakia aims to try


Danube border between Hungary and Slovakia. PHOTO/Ed Holt/IPS

A landmark programme to combat drought set to be implemented in the small Central European country of Slovakia could be an inspiration for other states as extreme weather events become more frequent, the environmental action group behind the plan has said.

The H2odnota v krajine (Value of H2O in the country) plan, which is expected to be approved by the Slovak government this Spring, includes a range of measures which, unlike many plans for drought, is proactive and focuses on prevention and mitigation instead of reacting to drought once it has occurred.

Southern Slovakia’s climate is rapidly becoming closer to that of northern Italy or Spain.

Richard Muller, Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe at the Global Water Partnership, an international network of organisations working to promote sustainable management and development of water resources, helped draft the plan.

He told IPS: “A few of the measures in this plan have been adopted in other countries as part of climate change adaptation, but Slovakia is the first country in the region to have this kind of action plan to combat drought.

“It is a landmark plan…other countries could look at this and be inspired and say, yes, this is something we should copy.”

The focus of the plan is on preventive measures in a number of areas, specifically agriculture and forestry, urban landscape, water management, research and environmental education.

The measures involve projects to modernise irrigation systems and change forest structure towards better climate change resilience as well as rainwater harvesting, tree planting, development of green spaces, green and vertical roofs and rainwater infiltration in urban landscapes.

It also covers water management, dealing with preparatory work for reconstruction of smaller reservoirs of water and green infrastructure, including wetlands restoration.

There is also a crisis plan to supply water to different sectors of national economy during prolonged drought while it also involves programmes for public education and raising awareness of drought and water scarcity.

Together, these measures should, Muller explained, mean that even if and when there are long, dry spells, there will be some mitigation of the effects.

“Other countries have plans for drought, but in some, such as the USA, measures are related to dealing with drought after the event. But the Slovak plan is focused on prevention and action beforehand,” he said.

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