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Global Drought Snapshot: UNCCD

Why is it in the news?

  • The UNCCD’s ‘Global Drought Snapshot’ unveiled at COP28 reveals that drought inflicts extensive economic losses and impacts various sectors of societies.


United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

·       Sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.

·       Originated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, adopted in 1994.

·       Addresses arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas (drylands).

·       Aims to combat desertification and achieve sustainable land management.


Key Highlights


Social Dimensions– 85% of people affected by droughts in low- or middle-income countries.
– 23 million severely food insecure in the Horn of Africa (December 2022).
– 170 million expected to experience extreme drought at 3°C warming, 50 million more than at 1.5°C.
Agriculture and Forests– 70% cereal crops damaged by drought in the Mediterranean (2016-2018).
– 33% loss of grazing land in South Africa; Africa’s drought-related losses in the past 50 years at $70 billion.
– Five consecutive rainfall season failures in Horn of Africa led to the region’s worst drought in 40 years.
Water Conditions– 75% reduction in cargo capacity on the Rhine in 2022 due to low river levels.
– 5 million people in southern China affected by record-low water levels in the Yangtze River.
Remedies Highlighted– Drought-resistant crops, efficient irrigation, no-till, and soil conservation practices.
– Up to 25% CO2 emissions offset by nature-based solutions, including land restoration.
– Efficient Water Management and investment in sustainable water supply systems.
– Promotion of water-efficient technologies; potential 20-50% reduction in water waste with micro-irrigation.
– Investment in meteorological monitoring, data collection, and risk assessment tools.
– Global drought resilience requires international cooperation, knowledge sharing, and environmental and social justice.


About Drought

·       Prolonged dry period in the natural climate cycle; can occur globally.

·       Slow-onset disaster with a lack of precipitation, impacting health, agriculture, economies, energy, and the environment.

·       An estimated 55 million people affected by droughts annually.

·       Water scarcity impacts 40% of the world’s population; 700 million at risk of displacement by 2030.


Type of Droughts

·       Meteorological Drought: Occurs when dry weather patterns dominate an area; Can begin and end rapidly.

·       Hydrological Drought: Occurs when low water supply becomes evident, especially in streams, reservoirs, and groundwater levels. Takes much longer to develop and recover compared to meteorological drought.

·       Agricultural Drought: Occurs when crops become affected.

·       Socio-economic Drought: Relates to the supply and demand of various commodities in connection with drought.



Way Forward (Report)

  • No alternative to moving forward respecting the planet’s boundaries and interdependencies of all life.
  • Need for binding global agreements for proactive measures to curtail drought spells.

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