Know Risk is a community education program designed by the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) to improve our understanding of insurance and how it relates to managing the many risks we all face in life.
Getting ready for dryer times.
Droughts occur throughout Australia and New Zealand, bringing prolonged periods of reduced rainfall and drastically affecting the land. Droughts especially impact farmers and people whose livelihoods are tied to the land in some way, and may develop over many months, sometimes after years of low rainfall. Droughts can have a huge impact on the national economy and the agricultural industry, negatively affect water quality and increase the chances of bushfires and dust storms.
Through times of drought there is not enough water to meet needs, affecting whole communities. As water stores decrease, conserving the water that is there becomes more important.
Preparing for drought
Droughts, like anything tied to mother nature, can occur unpredictably and so preparing for droughts during periods of normal rainfall can help you make it through the tougher times. Most drought preparation revolves around water conservation.
Preparing around the home:
- Maintain your water sources. Repair any leaking pipes or taps, install water-efficient nozzles and showerheads and check all plumbing and pumps. Consider insulating pipes to reduce heat loss and protect them from breakage.
- Make conserving water the norm for your household – never pour water down the drain, find other ways of using it such as watering plants, take shorter showers and don’t leave the tap running unnecessarily.
- Choose water and energy efficient appliances including a low-flow, half-flush option on your toilet.
- Use mulch to retain soil moisture and control weeds and plant drought-resistant grass seed, shrubs and trees.
- Use a water-efficient irrigation system and look for water recycling opportunities.
- Identify alternative water sources such as rain harvesting.
- Follow any water restrictions in place, even in periods of non-drought.
For businesses, particularly those that make their living off the land, preparing for drought is absolutely essential.
- Start to accumulate information about rainfall records so you have an idea of what you may be up against.
- Have a business continuity plan in place to allow you to continue to operate during a drought. This will help you to identify risks and to have a plan in place for dealing with them if the time comes, as well as making quick decisions. Testing and updating your plan is important, particularly as your business conditions change.
- Check local authority drought planning guidelines and management strategies.
- For farms, there are a number of soil and water-conserving practices that can be put into place such as crop rotation and erosion control structures. Educating yourself on what your property needs to survive long-term is essential.
- Keep the possibility of drought in your mind when making financial and business decisions from year to year.