[Answered] The number and duration of droughts around the world are increasing at an alarming pace. Highlight the multidimensional impacts of drought and suggest solutions with a special focus on recent report of United Nations.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some points related to the multidimensional impacts of drought and suggest solutions with a special focus on the recent Nations report.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

In simple terms, drought is a period of unusually persistent dry weather that persists long enough to cause serious problems such as crop damage and/or water supply shortages.

A United Nations report “Drought in Numbers” has revealed that many parts of India fall under the list of regions that are vulnerable to drought globally. It also reports that in the past century, more than 10 million people died due to major drought events.

Impacts of drought:

  • Burden on women: Women and girls in developing countries suffer more in terms of education levels, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety as a result of droughts.
  • Environmental impacts: massive forest fires, loss of forest cover, migration of wildlife and sharpening man-animal conflicts, general stress on biodiversity etc.
  • Economic loss: The report stated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reduced by 2 to 5% between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts. Globally, droughts in the same period caused economic losses of approximately $124 billion.
  • Social Impacts: According to World Bank estimates, drought conditions can force up to 216 million people to migrate by 2050.
  • Other factors could be water scarcity, declining crop productivity, rise in sea levels, and overpopulation.

Within the next few decades, 129 countries will experience an increase in drought due to population growth and because of interaction between climate change and population growth. Considering this, the following solutions can be helpful in further reducing droughts occurrence:

  • Land restoration: It addresses many of the underlying factors of degraded water cycles and the loss of soil fertility.
  • Creating ecosystem: We must build and rebuild our landscapes better and create functional ecological systems wherever possible.
  • Proactive approach: Beyond restoration, there needs to be a paradigm shift from ‘reactive’ and ‘crisis-based’ approaches to ‘proactive’ and ‘risk-based’ drought management approaches which involve coordination, communication and cooperation with sufficient finance and political will.
  • Water harvesting and conservation efforts: It will process rainfall and runoff water collection from large catchments area and channel them for human consumption.
  • Agriculture must be reoriented towards less water-intensive crops. That requires good returns on less water-intensive crops.

Moving in the right direction requires concerted policy and partnerships at all levels along with integrated drought action plans. Early-warning systems, new technologies to guide decisions with precision and sustainable funding to improve drought resilience at the local level are also key actions.

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