An overview of US state drought plans: Crisis or risk management?

Xinyu Fu, Mark Svoboda, Zhenghong Tang, Zhijun Dai, Jianjun Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Recent severe drought events across the nation have raised our concerns over society's changing and increasing vulnerability to droughts. All levels of governments have taken actions to plan for the slow-onset, long-lasting and spatially extensive drought hazard. The progress of drought planning at the state level is especially impressive over the past decade due to the dramatic growth of drought plans. To date, almost all states have drought plans, but previous studies indicated these plans are still heavily relying on the reactive crisis management approach to deal with ongoing droughts rather than the proactive risk management approach toward building drought resilience. No study so far has empirically examined how well all of these state plans are and to what extent these plans incorporated risk management theory and practices on a national basis. Thus, this study develops a drought risk coding protocol to systematically assess the 44 latest state drought plans' quality in risk management. An inventory of the state drought plans is also established to demonstrate their quality, content and characteristics. The results indicate that state drought plans typically address emergency responses well, while they are generally weak in establishing strong goals, mitigation and adaptation, public involvement, plan updates and implementation. Lastly, recommendations are provided for drought officials to develop, enhance or revise drought plans toward a risk management approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1607-1627
Number of pages21
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Crisis management
  • Drought plan
  • Resilience
  • Risk management
  • State

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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