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Lessons Learned from the Canadian Drought Years 2001 and 2002

Synthesis Report


Drought is one of the world's most significant natural hazards. Droughts have major impacts on the economy, environment, health, and society. The droughts of 2001 and 2002 in Canada were no exception, covering massive areas, long-lasting, and bringing conditions unseen for at least a hundred years in some regions.

In general, droughts in Canada affect only one or two regions, are relatively short-lived (one or two seasons), and only impact a smaller number of sectors of the economy. In contrast, the drought years of 2001 and 2002 in Canada brought devastating impacts to many sectors of our economy, posed considerable adaptation challenges, and made history. The years 2001 and 2002 may have brought the first coast-to-coast droughts on record, and were rare as they struck areas that are less accustomed to dealing with droughts. These areas included parts of Eastern Canada and the northern agricultural prairies. The droughts were concentrated, however, in the West, with Saskatchewan and Alberta the hardest hit provinces.

Repercussions were far-reaching:

While the 2001 and 2002 droughts would have likely been much worse without the lessons learned from previous droughts, recommendations stood out in a number of areas:

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