21 Nov 2023
 | 21 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Mind the Gap: Misalignment Between Drought Monitoring and Community Realities

Sarra Kchouk, Louise Cavalcante, Lieke A. Melsen, David W. Walker, Germano Ribeiro Neto, Rubens Gondim, Wouter J. Smolenaars, and Pieter R. van Oel

Abstract. Despite recent studies emphasising the dual human and physical nature of droughts, there is a lag in advancing this insight in drought monitoring and early warning systems (DEWS). These systems mainly depend on physical indices and often overlook the experiences of affected communities, resulting in a drought-monitoring gap. This study introduces the Monitoring Efficacy Matrix (MEM) to assess the alignment between officially monitored data, relevant to drought impacts, and the actual experiences of a rural community in Northeast Brazil, which we investigated through interviews. The MEM revealed 'drought-monitoring challenges', composed of mismatches and blindspots between the official data and local experiences. Mismatches stem from varying spatial and temporal levels; blindspots arise from the diversity of local resilience strategies, or vulnerabilities, influencing drought impacts. What we define as a ‘drought-monitoring gap’ results from the tendency to prioritise specific indices and pragmatic spatial and temporal levels over a comprehensive drought-monitoring approach. We posit that a first step to bridge this gap can draw inspiration from recent drought-impact-monitoring initiatives, which are focused on the continuous monitoring of non-extreme events by municipal technical extension officers. However, ultimately bridging the drought-monitoring gap remains conditional on the adaptation of DEWS frameworks to accommodate the integration of qualitative and local data representing the relevant drought-related local context.

Sarra Kchouk et al.

Status: open (until 02 Jan 2024)

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Sarra Kchouk et al.

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Data underlyling the publication: Mind the Gap: Misalignment Between Drought Monitoring and Community Realities Sarra Kchouk, Louise Cavalcante, Lieke Melsen, David Walker, Germano Ribeiro Neto, Rubens Gondim, Wouter Smolenaars, and Pieter van Oel

Sarra Kchouk et al.


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Short summary
Droughts impact water and people, yet monitoring often overlooks impacts on people. In Northeast Brazil, we assess official data against local experiences, finding data mismatches and blindspots. Mismatches occur due to the data's broad scope missing finer details. Blindspots arise from ignoring diverse community responses and vulnerabilities to droughts. We suggest enhanced monitoring by technical extension officers for both severe and mild droughts.​