The U.S. Department of Homeland Security promotes the use of exercises when managing risk and considers them to play a key role in many of the phases of the cycle of disaster management. For instance, exercises can identify vulnerabilities and solutions for mitigation
; increase preparedness
by training participants, clarifying roles and responsibilities, and improving interagency coordination; identify needs and capabilities during a response
to a disaster; and assess the resources needed for recovery
. A wide variety of exercises are used in disaster management and these vary widely in cost, size, scope, complexity, purpose, and approach. Discussion-based activities, at the simplistic end of the spectrum, focus on participant discussion and can include activities such as seminars, workshops, table top exercises, and games. In general, these activities focus on planning and policy-oriented issues. At the other end of the spectrum, operations-based simulations focus on an actual reaction to a simulated scenario. Generally, these include the mobilization of resources and include activities such as drills, functional exercises, and full-scale exercises.
While these exercises have traditionally focused emergencies and hazards that fall within a discrete time frame and location, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, critical power failures, chemical spills, etc., many formats have also been applied to drought. By combining reviews of the scientific literature and reports available via the internet with the National Drought Mitigation Center’s 20-plus years of experience, this paper presents a typology exercises as they have been used adapted to drought risk management; highlights case studies of each type including workshops, table top exercises, tournaments, and operational simulations; and discusses the pros, cons, and considerations for organizations to use in selecting an exercise to meet their desired outcomes.