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A drought early warning system’s main purpose is to warn local communities when there is risk of a drought, improving preparedness and decreasing risks associated with crop and food loss. This technology is particularly important for agriculture and water resource management. Effective warning systems require drought monitoring using appropriate drought indicators, meteorological data and forecasts, a warning signal, public awareness and education, institutional cooperation, and data sharing arrangements. The unpredictable weather patterns resulting from climate change, such as the occurrence of increasingly severe droughts, make this technology important for climate change adaptation efforts in many countries. Assessing risks and vulnerabilities and improving preparedness for natural disasters can minimize threats and avoid expensive relief efforts following such an event. An early warning system combined with the slow onset of a drought can give sufficient lead-time to local decision makers to mitigate drought threats, for example by arranging for emergency food supply, planning water harvesting programmes or introducing improved dry-land farming initiatives.