United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) published the “Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Special Report on Drought 2021” on June 18, 2021. The report will be a part of the discussions at UN climate talks COP26, scheduled in Glasgow in November, 2021.
Introduction of Global Assessment Report
- The report explores the systemic nature of drought and its impacts on the achievement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the SDGs, human beings and ecosystem.
Definition of Drought
- Droughts are slow-onset events that can last from weeks to a few years. The term drought may refer to meteorological drought (precipitation well below average), hydrological drought (low river flows and water level in rivers, lakes and groundwater), agricultural drought (low soil moisture), and environmental drought (a combination of other forms of drought).
- The recent concept of flash droughts is quick-onset of severe events of water stress due to high temperature and evaporation. They linger for short periods (usually less than 3 months).
Findings of the Report
- Droughts affect large areas and populations with widespread impacts on society, economy, environment and hence sustainable development.
- The projections indicate more frequent and more severe droughts over wide parts of the world, in particular most of Africa, central and South America, central Asia, southern Australia, southern Europe, Mexico and US.
- Due to drought around 700 million people are at risk of being displaced by 2030 also around 20 million people across Africa and the Middle East came to the brink of starvation in 2017.
- By 2025, about two-third of the world will be facing water-stressed conditions.
- About 1.5 billion people are directly affected by drought in this century and the economic cost is estimated to be $ 124 bn, (from 1998 to 2017) although the actual figures is likely to be higher specially due to much impact developing countries.
- India’s GDP is estimated to be affected by severe drought at 2-5% per annum.
- Significant drought conditions are found once every three years in Deccan region, leading to large-scale migration and desertification, especially in the states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
- A combination of drought and overextraction from reservoirs (natural and human-made) and groundwater leads to decreasing buffers and reduced resilience to future drought.
Recommendations by the Report
- Drought resilience partnerships at the national and local levels will be critical for managing drought.
- Indigenous and local knowledge should be encouraged and drought risk management experiences be shared.
- Focus must be on the prevention measures as it has lower human, financial and environmental costs.
- Improved risk governance and financial systems for cooperative approaches can lead to effective action on drought.
The international community in general and countries in particular must recognize the grave hreat of drought and other disasters. The countries must build resilience in coping with these sorts of disasters. Various water conservation and harvesting practices of India and the proposed National River Linking Project can possibly help to prevent water-stress situations.