As a natural disaster, droughts are singular in many aspects such as causing non-structural damage, having slow onset which is difficult to determine and causing fatalities not directly but indirectly. For arid and semi-arid regions, drought is a vital phenomenon; particularly in closed basins where water resources are scarce to meet demands. Konya and Akarçay Basins of Turkey are closed basins which are susceptible to droughts at the ultimate level. The recent droughts that occurred in 2008 and 2013 had serious effects on socio-economic activities and environmental resources located at these basins. Moreover, in the near future, droughts are expected to be more severe and frequent because of the potential adverse effects of climate change.
In order to survive droughts with minimum damage, drought management must be planned by considering the scientific realities and results of drought studies which are supported by a determinant political will and coordination. In Turkey, science and policy were integrated in that manner to prepare drought management plans.
This study is aimed to share experiences achieved during the preparation of drought management plans in Turkey and discuss the essentials of preparation of a drought management plan process. These essentials include:
1. Including all of the stakeholders in the process from beginning to the end. Identifying their needs.
2. Producing and collecting reliable data about the study region and publishing the relevant data for the use of all stakeholders.
3. Considering possible changes in the future climate of the study area by utilizing climate models.
4. Analyzing past droughts and drought characteristics of the study area by using several drought indices.
5. Determination of water budget considering available surface and subsurface water resources by utilizing hydrological models.
6. Evaluation of sectorial needs by considering different water users. Identifying vulnerabilities and priorities.
7. Making use of all of the scientific information obtained, determination of necessary measures to mitigate droughts by clarifying the following questions,
a) At which state of drought the measure will be taken?
b) Who will take the measure?
c) How the measure will be taken?
8. Establishing a drought management model that all of the stakeholder institutions are involved to ensure efficient and well-coordinated management of droughts.
9. Publishing and implementing the plan.
10. Revision of the plan at regular periods, particularly after drought events.
The first step on the way of mitigating droughts includes analyzing past and potential future droughts. For this purpose, comprehensive drought studies were conducted for two different basins of Turkey which experienced severe droughts in the past. Drought analyses of these basins were conducted by using several drought indices. These analyses clearly indicates the drought periods and the areas mostly vulnerable to droughts. In order to determine the potential future droughts, climate change analyses were conducted by modelling the future climate conditions.
The impacts of droughts on different types of agricultural production, municipal waters, industry and ecosystems were determined by conducting comprehensive field studies. These sectorial studies enlightened the measures to be taken for drought mitigation purposes.