The Drought in Numbers 2022 report was recently presented by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at the ongoing 15th Conference of Parties (CoP15).
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.
Key Findings of Drought in Numbers 2022 report
- 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 per cent between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts in the country.
- Nearly two-thirds of the country suffered drought during 2020-2022.
India’s Drought Situation
- India’s drought-prone area has increased by 57 per cent since 1997, as Down To Earth has analysed earlier. One-third of India’s districts have faced more than four droughts over the past decade and 50 million people are affected by drought every year.
- Some 97.85 million hectares — nearly 30 per cent of the country’s land — underwent land degradation during 2018-19, according to Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India, released by the Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation last year.
- The study, published in 2006, found that in a severe drought year, farmers in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha lost close to $400 million. The study found that almost 13 million people in the three states who live just above the poverty line, fall below it due to drought-induced income loss.
- According to the report, if predictions are correct and global warming reaches 3° C by 2100, drought losses could be five times higher than today’s levels.
- 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. On a related note, 84 per cent of all terrestrial ecosystems are threatened by changing and intensifying wildfires.
- More than a billion people around the world were affected by drought in 2000-19, making it the second-worst disaster after flooding. Africa was the worst hit, with 134 droughts, of which 70 occurred in East Africa.
- Since 2000, there has been a 29 per cent increase in frequency and duration of droughts in the world.
- By 2030, or in the next eight years, drought will potentially displace an estimated 700 million people worldwide. In 2019-2020, drought impacted 1.4 billion people.
- Climate change alone will cause 129 countries to experience an increase in drought exposure in the next few decades.
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 per cent) and girls (9 per cent).
- The report notes that they may spend up to 40 per cent of their caloric intake fetching water.
- Drought is considered a slow onset disaster, thus giving enough time to prepare for it. But in recent decades, drought has emerged as one of the biggest drivers of human life loss and economic loss among weather-related disasters.
- Other factors at play along with drought could be water scarcity, declining crop productivity, rise in sea levels, and overpopulation.
Cause of Concerns
- According to a 2017 report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the percentage of plants affected by drought has more than doubled in the last 40 years. Around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year due to drought and desertification.
- The World Health Organisation has noted that approximately 55 million people globally are directly affected by droughts annually, making it the most serious hazards to livestock and crops in almost every part of the world.
- 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 per cent of all disasters and 45 per cent of all reported deaths since 1970, World Meteorological Organisation data has revealed. Nine in ten of these deaths have occurred in developing countries.
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.
- It proposes to tackle “the interconnected challenges of land degradation, climate change, and biodiversity loss” as we move into the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
- The UNCCD’s 197 parties, which includes 196 member States as well as the European Union, are expected to brainstorm sustainable ideas to further land restoration and drought resilience, focusing on “future-proofing land use.” The UNCCD envisions restoring one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030, creating a land degradation-neutral world.
- Sustainable and efficient agricultural management techniques that grow more food on less land and with less water.
- Changes in relationships with food, fodder and fibre, moving toward plant-based diets and reducing or stopping the consumption of animals.
- Development and implementation of integrated drought action plans
- Set up effective early-warning systems that work across boundaries.
- Deployment of new technologies such as satellite monitoring and artificial intelligence to guide decisions with greater precision.
- Mobilize sustainable finance to improve drought resilience at the local level.
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