Australia, in particular, New South Wales, is suffering a severe drought. Communities and local towns are struggling to survive as the lack of water destroys livestock and diminishes the quality of life for citizens. This issue is only going to get worse. Globally, levels of drought are increasing as the amount of water decreases. Before it is all too late, we need to prepare for drought and how to overcome it.
In Australia, Scott Morrison has founded a Future Drought Fund which releases up to $100 million annually to enhance preparations and responses to drought conditions. Financial support towards drought-affected areas are vital but need to be utilised wisely. A report by the Australian National University found that direct welfare assistance to farmers to alleviate financial pain was beneficial, but other uses of funds such as more extensive programs had a limited impact. One of these larger programs is the possible increase in the number of dams. However, any benefit from a short-term increase in the supply of water would be lost from the rise in demand from irrigators, leaving rural communities facing the same problems when the next drought occurred.
Another option to overcoming drought is transforming the culture and activity of rural towns. Farming naturally requires large amounts of water, especially in parts of Australia which grow cotton. This may not be sustainable anymore. If this is the case, Australian drought-relief policies need to contemplate the possibility of some communities needing assistance to transition out of farming operation in the long-term.
Overcoming drought can also be achieved through the small actions of each individual. One person making minor changes to their water use will have a minimal impact, but if each person makes slight changes to their daily routine, the results will be staggering. There are many different ways to save water, such as reducing the time of showers, always turning taps off tightly so that they don’t drip and washing only full loads in the washing machine. Other small changes can be as little as turning the tap off while brushing your teeth or never letting the water run continuously when hand-washing dishes.
For any chance of overcoming drought, we must all work together. There has been a noticeable disconnect between parliament and rural communities over the past year, and that must stop. Communication between rural communities, state parliaments and federal parliament is vital to ensure that we can all overcome drought and protect our society.
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