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Global Drought Snapshot

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This topic of “Global Drought Snapshot” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Introduction

The global drought situation as of late 2023 presents a critical scenario, with widespread impacts across continents. Record heat and dry conditions have exacerbated droughts, affecting agriculture, water resources, and leading to food insecurity in several regions. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) emphasizes the urgency of addressing human-induced droughts and the necessity for immediate action.

Global Drought Overview (September 2023)

  • Record Heat and Drought
    • Continents including Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Asia, and Australia experienced record warmth and dry conditions.
    • Increased evapotranspiration, influenced by El Niño, aggravated drought conditions, particularly affecting the eastern Indian Ocean to Central and northern South America.
  • Agricultural Impact
    • The drought led to low soil moisture and groundwater levels, with global agricultural lands suffering.
    • Food insecurity escalated in regions like Central and South America, Southwest Asia, and Africa.

Regional Analysis

  • Europe
    • Most of the continent experienced drier than normal conditions with persistently warm temperatures.
    • Drought conditions were significant in southern and eastern Europe, with low groundwater and stressed vegetation.
  • Asia
    • Large areas, from western Russia to central Asia and Southwest Asia to parts of China, were drier than normal.
    • The continent witnessed the second warmest September on record, with drought conditions plaguing several regions.
  • Africa
    • Drier conditions prevailed across the Mediterranean coast, northwest, eastern, western equatorial, and southeast Africa.
    • The continent recorded the warmest September on record, with low soil moisture and groundwater in affected regions.
  • Australia
    • Australia experienced its driest and third warmest September on record.
    • Climate drivers like El Niño and the positive Indian Ocean Dipole contributed to these conditions.
  • South America
    • Northern and western regions were drier than normal, while the south experienced wetter conditions.
    • The continent faced the warmest September on record, with extensive drought in various areas.
  • North America
    • Most parts of Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the southwestern U.S. to the Great Lakes were drier than normal.
    • The continent also recorded its warmest September on record.

UNCCD Global Drought Snapshot 2023

  • Alarming Trends
    • The report reveals alarming trends of increasing human-induced droughts with severe impacts on lives and livelihoods.
    • It emphasizes the need for transformational change to address the frequency and severity of drought events.
  • Recommendations for Action
    • Key recommendations include land restoration, sustainable management, nature-positive farming techniques, efficient water management, and investment in disaster preparedness and early warning systems.
  • Vulnerable Populations
    • The report highlights that 85% of those affected by droughts live in low or middle-income countries.
    • The Central American Dry Corridor is particularly impacted, with millions needing food aid.

Conclusion

The global drought situation as of December 2023 is a call for urgent and concerted action. The increase in frequency and severity of droughts, driven by human-induced factors, requires immediate response and long-term strategies. The focus on sustainable practices, disaster preparedness, and resilience building is crucial to mitigate the impacts of drought and safeguard vulnerable communities worldwide.

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