Seminar at FAO seeks to rekindle international cooperation, wider use of existing tools and approaches.

Parched earth in Kenya, one of the East African countries currently feeling the impacts of drought.Rome - Investing in preparedness and building the resilience of farmers is fundamental to facing situations of extreme drought, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

"Saving livelihoods means saving lives - this is what building resilience is all about," he said in a speech at the start of an international seminar on drought organized by Iran, the Netherlands, and FAO and held at the UN agency's Rome headquarters.

Recalling the 2011 drought in Somalia that saw over 250,000 people perish from hunger, Graziano da Silva said: "People die because they are not prepared to face the impacts of the drought - because their livelihoods are not resilient enough."

 "For years, the focus has been responding to droughts when they happen, rushing to provide emergency assistance and to keep people alive," Graziano da Silva said, noting that while "of course, that is important," investing in preparedness and resilience is essential. Doing so puts countries on a footing to act quickly before it is too late, means that farmers and rural communities are better positioned to cope with extreme weather when it does hit.

John Mutorwa, Minister for Agriculture, Water and Forestry of Namibia, said that in these times of climate change, drought has emerged as a challenge that all countries will be forced to face, again and again.

"It is not a question of whether drought will come, it is a question of: Drought will come, and therefore, we have to be prepared," the Minister said, underscoring the importance of the seminar's theme, "Predict, Plan, Prepare: Stop Drought becoming Famine."

Read more: World needs to pre-empt devastating drought impacts through better preparedness


People cooling off in Quetta, Pakistan. (Jamal Taraqui/European Pressphoto Agency)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Residents of Turbat, a remote town in southwestern Pakistan, have had to cope with punishingly hot weather for generations. But when the mercury climbed to 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit on May 28 — potentially the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia — relief proved elusive, partly because Turbat suffers from regular electricity shortages.

Read more: As Asian Scorchers Multiply, Records Fall and Attention Rises


The US president's decision led to protests against the withdrawal from the Paris agreement

US President Donald Trump "believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation," says the US ambassador to the UN.

He knows "the US has to be responsible for it and that's what we're going to do," said Nikki Haley.

The president provoked widespread condemnation when he announced on Thursday the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.

The US becomes one of only three countries outside its framework.

When he made the announcement, Mr Trump said the deal would hurt the US economy. He made no mention of climate change science.

During his election campaign, Mr Trump had said that climate change was a hoax and, since his announcement on Thursday, has avoided questions on the subject, as has White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Read more: Trump 'does believe in climate change', says US ambassador to UN


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