New Drought Planning Extension Resource Coming Soon

When it comes to community preparedness for natural disasters, one disaster that may be overlooked in the Midwest is drought. However, drought is the second costliest natural disaster in the United States, with each event costing the economy approximately 9.7 billion dollars. And the agriculture sector is often the hardest hit.

A Network funded team based out of the Natural Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) is working on a new resource to help Extension professionals and communities better plan for droughts. The resource will take the form of an interactive guidebook intended to help communities mitigate drought though the use of scenario-based exercises. The team is taking a roughly 80-page report developed by the NDMC on drought scenario exercises and turning it into a user-friendly interactive website that will help communities understand, plan and prepare for future droughts.

“People don’t always think of drought as being as bad as flooding or hurricanes, but it can have a huge impact and a really far reaching toll” notes Tonya Bernadt, education and outreach specialist at the NDMC and co-director of the project.

The Drought Scenario Guidebook that will be housed on the NDMC website contains four main components:

  • Drought Planning
    This section will discuss the basics of drought including types, characteristics, and challenges. It also highlights the reasons to prepare for droughts and the impacts drought can have. This section introduces users to scenario planning, effective elements used in planning, the differences between mitigation and response, and the steps in the planning process.
  • Types of Scenario-Based Exercises
    This section details the three types of scenario-based exercises: workshops, games, and tabletop exercises. This component also compares the three types to help users effectively choose the exercise that it right for their needs.
  • Development of Scenario-Based Exercises
    The development section is the heart of the guidebook. Here users are taken through five things to consider when creating a scenario-based exercise for drought planning: foundation, planning, design, implementation, and impact. Each part is robust containing interactive graphics, worksheets, tasks, examples, and much more to help users create scenarios that fit their community’s needs.
  • Resources
    The final section of the guidebook provides additional resources for users. These resources include a collection of worksheets and other information found within the development section, multiple case studies that users can read through to get ideas for their own exercises, and a process agenda to aid in planning a workshop. This component also houses a glossary and a reference section and a link to to the full 80-page research guide.

Before the release of the interactive guidebook the team will be hosting a workshop for community development professionals, including Extension educators, across the region to gain their feedback on the guide. The workshop will be used to help finalize the guide, better understand potential guide audiences, and allow potential users to familiarize themselves with the resource. This workshop was originally going to take place in person; however, the team is now looking at virtual options in the beginning of 2021.

While the effects of drought can be widespread and detrimental, being prepared and having a plan can help to reduce these negative impacts for communities and producers alike. The new drought scenario guidebook was created with hopes of helping communities do just that in an interactive and easy to use way.

This project is being led up by Mark Svoboda, Deborah Bathke, and Tonya Bernadt from the National Drought Mitigation Center based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The project also has an advisory committee consisting of four members from the Network’s North Central Climate Collaborative team.

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