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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2023


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