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India’s Vulnerability to Drought


 A United Nations report has revealed that many parts of India fall under the list of regions that are vulnerable to drought globally. The report also stated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reduced by 2 to 5% between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts in the country. Globally, droughts in the same period caused economic losses of approximately $124 billion.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Drought?
  2. What is the Drought in Numbers report?
  3. What is COP15?
  4. What does the report entail?
  5. Impact of drought
  6. What are the environmental aspects?

What is Drought?

Drought is a period when there is a shortage of water availability due to inadequate precipitation, excessive rate of evaporation and over-utilisation of water from the reservoirs and other storages, including the ground water.

Types of Droughts

  • Meteorological Drought : It is a situation when there is a prolonged period of inadequate rainfall marked with loss distribution of the rain for long time
  • Agricultural Drought  : It is also known as soil moisture drought,  it is characterised by low soil moisture which is necessary to support the crops, thereby resulting in crop failures.
  • Hydrological Drought : It results when the availability of water in different storages and reservoirs like aquifers, lakes, reservoirs, etc. falls below what the precipitation can replenish.
  • Ecological Drought : it results When the productivity of a natural ecosystem diminishes due to shortage of water and as a consequence of ecological distress, damages are induced in the ecosystem.

What is the Drought in Numbers report?

  • The Drought in Numbers report is a collection of data on the effects of droughts on our ecosystem and how they can be mitigated through efficient planning for the future.
  • The report also helps inform negotiations surrounding key decisions by the UNCCD’s 197 member parties at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15), currently underway in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Drought, land restoration, and related aspects such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment are among the top considerations at COP15.
  • The number and duration of droughts around the world has increased by an alarming 29% since 2000.

What is COP15?

  • UNCCD’s COP15 focuses on desertification, land degradation, and drought, with the theme for the conference being “Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity.”
  • The conference has brought together government representatives, private sector members, and civil society stakeholders to ensure that land continues to benefit present and future generations.

What does the report entail?

  • According to World Bank estimates, drought conditions can force up to 216 million people to migrate by 2050. Weather, climate and water hazards have accounted for 50% of all disasters and 45% of all reported deaths since 1970, the World Meteorological Organisation data has revealed.
    • Nine in ten of these deaths have occurred in developing countries.
  • Between 2020 and 2022, 23 countries have faced drought emergencies.
  • According to the report, climate change alone will cause 129 countries to experience an increase in drought exposure in the next few decades.
  • Africa was the worst hit, with 134 droughts, of which 70 occurred in East Africa.

Impact of drought:

  • The impact of drought is, however, not uniform across genders.
  • Research shows that women and girls in emerging and developing countries suffer more in terms of education levels, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety as a result of droughts.
  • The burden of water collection also disproportionately falls on women (72%) and girls (9%). The report notes that they may spend up to 40% of their caloric intake fetching water.
  • In 2022, over 2.3 billion people are facing water stress. Almost 160 million children are exposed to severe and prolonged droughts.

What are the environmental aspects?

  • The largest increase in drought losses is projected in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions of Europe.
  • Australia’s megadrought in 2019-2020 contributed to “megafires” resulting in one of the most extensive losses of habitat for threatened species.
  • About three billion animals were killed or displaced in the Australian wildfires.
  • Around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year due to drought and desertification.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024