GWP Senior Water & Climate Specialist Valentin Aich started with GWP in October 2020. His position is shared between GWP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the core of his job is based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between GWP and WMO, the latest version of the long-running collaboration was signed in 2019. Aich explains that his job has three main aspects: 1) strengthening the management of hydro-climatic extremes through the joint programmes on flood (APFM) and drought (IDMP); 2) strengthening the capacity of countries to develop high impact water and climate projects; and 3) strengthening stakeholder engagement on developing water information and products at regional and country level.
When it comes to the work on drought, he explains that IDMP has so far been mainly implemented in three regions – Central and Eastern Europe, West Africa, and Eastern Africa – where the work continues to strengthen the pillars of IDMP: 1) Monitoring and early warning, 2) Vulnerability and impact assessment, and 3) Mitigation, preparedness and response. The IDMP working group is working on several publications to be published soon, one of which focuses on water scarcity and drought, and is under final review. But the biggest job ahead is the planned establishment of a regional IDMP CACENA.
“We are working on the CACENA expansion with the support of GWP Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) because they already went through this process. We have identified potential funding sources for this to happen. The establishment of a regional IDMP in CACENA is a topic that is more and more talked about, and we feel that a ‘critical mass’ has now been reached. Now a lot of things are coming together which are needed to establish an effective drought mechanism: from the scientific side, there are new products that help with drought monitoring and – most importantly – there is a political will and strong regional partners. Together, GWP and WMO have all the connections to support and strengthen such an endeavour,” says Aich.
He adds, “There exists knowledge and capacity for the IDMP pillars in the region, and if we are successful, it would mean we can include the pillars in national or regional legal frameworks. But this is not a process that gets achieved at a set moment, it's more of a gradual thing where we start by conducting workshops with governmental partners and other relevant stakeholders. We try to follow a similar process as CEE, but of course tailored to the specific situation and context in CACENA. I'm very excited about this, and the good thing is that I'm also the GWP Network Specialist for GWP CACENA, which means I see this development from several angles.”
In addition to the plans for CACENA, Aich and his IDMP colleagues are working on developing a new Strategy for the programme: “It is still early days for a new strategy, but it is exciting to think about where we want to see IDMP in five years. How can we support the idea that nobody is unprepared for droughts anymore?”
Celebrating 17 June
The IDMP working group is also preparing to celebrate the World Drought Day on 17 June. Aich says the theme for 2021, “Restoration. Land. Recovery”, fits well within the 3rd pillar of IDMP, on risk mitigation and preparedness.
“Land management in general is a key tool for drought management and effective risk mitigation. Therefore, the theme gives us an opportunity to promote the idea of using proactive - not reactive - ways of dealing with droughts,” says Aich.
The Partners of IDMP have quarterly exchanges to share ideas and showcase global work on drought, but to mark Drought Day, the next session will be held on 17 June and it will be the first time the group holds a topical session.
“We want to focus the session on drought monitoring and forecasting, with examples from different regions. We also want to open it up to everyone interested in drought management. Additionally, we will launch a series of graphical factsheets on integrated drought management, which can be used for communication and awareness raising, for example in social media,” says Aich.