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The idea of incorporating drought mitigation into the regular work of FAO was first put forward in 1997 by a small group of FAO technical officers at the Subregional Office for Southern and East Africa (SAFR), in Zimbabwe. The group was later expanded to include all technical officers belonging to the multidisciplinary team, led by Owen Hughes.

This team hypothesized and believed that longer-term interventions were needed in order to overcome the underlying environmental, economic and social causes of drought impacts on peoples’ livelihoods and that this principle should guide the work of FAO in this area.

Many thanks are due to colleagues at SAFR for their invaluable insights and feedback during the many hours of debate on the subject. The support, guidance and encouragement given throughout by Victoria Sekitoleko, FAO Subregional Representative, are gratefully acknowledged.

In particular, the following are thanked for their contribution to the analytical work that is contained in this report: Owen Hughes, who took the original idea and developed a concept paper on learning to live with drought; Arie Remmelzwaal, a consultant who researched and compiled most of the initial draft, in particular the biophysical assessments; Karen Frenken, for her continuous involvement and substantial contributions to the sections on water resources in Chapter 2; and Mark McGuire, who was responsible for compiling a large part of Chapter 3, in particular the important social and economic characteristics of population, HIV/AIDS, human development, poverty and livelihood security. Finally, the work of Jan Schoeman and colleagues at the Institute for Soil, Climate and Water of the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa is gratefully acknowledged for gap filling, updating and completing the situation analysis.

Special thanks are due to Julian Plummer for editing the text and Lynette Chalk for reformatting and preparing the report in camera-ready form.

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