The UN report that highlights India’s vulnerability to drought 

News: Recently, the Droughts in Numbers, 2022 report was presented by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).  

What is the Drought in Numbers Report? 

The report is a collection of data on the effects of droughts on our ecosystem and the manner in which they can be mitigated through efficient planning for the future.  

The report also gives information about negotiations that are undergoing at the UNCCD’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) on key issues like drought, land restoration, and related aspects such as land rights, gender equality and youth empowerment. 

What is UNCCD’S COP15? 

UNCCD’s COP15 focuses on desertification, land degradation, and drought. The theme for COP15 has been kept to be “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. They are expected to brainstorm sustainable ideas to further land restoration and drought resilience, focusing on “future-proofing land use. 

It proposes to tackle “the interconnected challenges of land degradation, climate change, and biodiversity loss” in the ongoing UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-30). 

The UNCCD envisions restoring one billion hectares of degraded land by 2030, creating a land degradation-neutral world. 

What are the findings of the report? 

The number and duration of droughts around the world has increased by an alarming 29% since 2000. 

As per the report, Globally, droughts have caused economic losses of approximately $124 billion between 1998 and 2017 due to severe droughts. Similarly, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reduced by 2 to 5% in the same period.  

Pattern of drought emergencies between 2020 and 2022: It has revealed that many parts of India fall under the list of regions that are vulnerable to droughts globally. 

Human impact: Drought is the second-worst disaster after flooding. For example, Africa was the worst hit, with 134 droughts, of which 70 occurred in East Africa. 

It affected more than a billion people around the world between 2000-19. The worst sufferers are women and girls, especially in emerging and developing countries. The droughts impact their education, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety.

  • For example, droughts cause water stress, therefore, women and girls who bear the disproportionate burden of water collection are forced to go out to fetch water during droughts.  

The droughts lead to water stress and also impact livestock and crops in almost every part of the world. 

Environmental aspects 

If global warming reaches 3° C by 2100, drought can lead to 5 times higher drought losses than today’s levels. The largest drought losses are projected in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions of Europe.  

The droughts will intensify wildfires, which will threaten 84% of all terrestrial ecosystems. For example, 2019-2020 Australia’s mega drought and wildfires caused the killing or displacement of about three billion animals in addition to loss of their habitats. 

According to a FAO Report 2017, around 12 million hectares of land are lost each year due to drought and desertification 

Other aspects 

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), weather, climate and water hazards have accounted for 50% of all disasters and 45% of all reported deaths since 1970. Most of the deaths have occurred in developing countries. 

According to World Bank estimates, drought conditions, along with other factors like water scarcity, declining crop productivity, rise in sea levels and overpopulation can force up to 216 million people to migrate by 2050.  

According to the report, climate change alone will cause 129 countries to experience an increase in drought exposure in the next few decades. 

Source: The post is based on an article “The UN report that highlights India’s vulnerability to drought” published in “The Hindu” on 19th May 2022. 

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