An Assessment Framework to Analyze Drought Management Plans: The Case of Spain

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Droughts affect all socio-economic sectors and have negative impacts on the environment. Droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change, which makes their effective management a high priority for policy makers and water managers. Drought Management Plans (DMPs) are a key instrument to deal with droughts and help to prepare for them in a proactive way as a framework for coordinated action before and during droughts. The development of DMPs is still incipient worldwide and their assessment remains limited. In Spain, DMPs at a river basin level were first approved in 2007. Following the legal obligation set in Spanish law, those plans were revised after ten years and a new version was approved in 2018. A content analysis was developed for assessing the 2018 DMPs of eight river basins managed by their corresponding River Basin Authorities, which depend on the Spanish central government. The evaluation criteria were set using the extant scientific literature and official guidelines on drought preparedness and management. The analysis showed that some aspects of the DMPs are especially well-developed, e.g., the distinction between drought and water scarcity, the definition of thresholds to trigger different levels of drought and water scarcity alerts and actions for drought management and coordination. Other issues still need further improvement, especially those related to the analysis of drought impacts, the assessment of vulnerability and the ex-post evaluation of DPM performance.
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