Drought Monitoring Workshop - Egypt - Mark Svoboda

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NENA stakeholders workshop:
Operationalizing the regional collaborative platform to address water consumption, water productivity, and drought in management in agriculture
Cairo, Egypt, 27-29 October 2015

My name is Mark Svoboda and I’m a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center and I oversee our monitoring program area, which is a lot of our operational tools that we have developed over the years that are available freely to the public.

How are you going to set up the Regional Drought Monitoring System?
The basic platform that the National Drought Mitigation Center evolves around are the three pillars, drought management. Within the drought plan, the area that I emphasize on is on the monitoring and early warning and then you have risk and vulnerability assessment, which is another key component as well as the mitigation measures and the plan itself. So monitoring serves as a one of the critical pillar that gives people a heads up of when did they do something what did they do; this is all based on triggers of various indicators we look; whether they be satellite based or wether they be climate based or hydrologically based. These are what feed that system to get people a sort of heads up that drought is coming, now what do you do. So the key thing is “Now what?”. We have the trigger, we see the drought taking place. That is when we need to fall back on the plant, so really its sort of the chicken and the egg; we need the early warning but then we need the plant to enact action.
How are you collaborating with ICBA scientists to generate these maps?
Over the past 20 years that the drought center has been around, we have been working with groups around the world to develop better decision-support tools; to develop drought indexes and indicators to help them determine when they might be going into drought. Along this idea of risk based management. So, we just happened to come into association with ICBA because of our work in the Middle East and in the region and Asia and Europe where we’ve developed some systems. We’ve been working with groups in North Africa and the MENA region and Southern Europe. So, it was a logical partnership, I think, to tap into the expertise of ICBA in the region and some of the cutting edge tools we’ve developed and some of the plans we want to work on with ICBA moving forward; it was just a very logical fit in my opinion.