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Drought emergency

2nd December, 2023 Environment

Drought emergency

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  • 84 billion people were drought-stricken, out of which 4.7% were exposed to severe or extreme drought

More About Drought Emergency

  • At least 23 countries, including India, declared drought emergencies at a national or sub-national level during 2022-23, according to new data from a global drought map compiled by the United Nations, pointing to unprecedented urgency on a planetary scale.
  • Based on reporting by 101 Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), 1.84 billion people were drought-stricken, out of which 4.7 percent were exposed to severe or extreme drought, the report, launched on December 1, 2023 by the UNCCD at the outset of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate talks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates said.
  • An emergency was declared in 23 countries due to the impact of drought.
  • Of these, Europe had the highest number (8) of Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom declaring it in April, May, and July 2023, respectively, while Greece, Portugal, Romania, and Serbia in July 2022.
  • Drought and drought-like conditions spread to many European countries both in 2022 and 2023.
  • The countries faced blistering heat and recorded their hottest summers. In 2022, the continent recorded its largest overall drought-impacted area — over 630,000 square kilometers, as opposed to the 167,000 square kilometers annual average between 2000 and 2022, according to European Environment Agency, 2023.

  • According to the map, the United States and Canada also declared drought emergencies in January 2022 and March 2023, respectively.
  • In Asia, five countries declared drought — India and Sri Lanka in August 2023, Indonesia in July 2023, and Kazakhstan and China in April and May 2022, respectively.
  • The year 2023 has broken several records when it comes to extreme heat. On November 17, 2023, the world breached 2 degrees Celsius of warming, a number the world was constantly warned of not crossing.
  • This new data was part of a preliminary analysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

The cascading effect of Drought

  • From dwindling reservoir levels to declining crop yields, from loss of biological diversity to famines and serious economic consequences, especially in agriculture-dependent regions where drought-related crop failures lead to food shortages and often skyrocketing prices, potentially disrupting global food supply chains.

Drought emergencies in other countries

  • South American country Uruguay and the African countries of Niger, Djibouti, Cabo Verde and Mauritania also declared drought emergencies in 2022-23.
  • Other countries included Kiribati, the Marshal Islands, and Tuvalu.
  • The Horn of Africa faced its worst drought in 40 years, with Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia particularly hard hit.
  • Five consecutive failures of rainfall seasons wreaked havoc over large parts of East Africa and contributed to reduced agricultural productivity, food insecurity and high food prices, as per World Meteorological Organization, 2023 data.


Q. Discuss the causes, impacts, and management strategies of drought emergencies worldwide. Examine the role of climate change, human activities, and governance in exacerbating or alleviating the effects of droughts.