330 million people in India were affected by drought in 2015-16: UN report
Experts released scientific inputs into how drought can be managed through better preparedness and tracking drought vulnerability of communities at the ongoing 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
These scientific inputs are likely to figure in the key decisions to be taken at the end of COP14 on Friday.
The UNCCD released “Drought Resilience, Adaptation and Management Policy Framework” which has made four broad recommendations.
The major one among them is to put in place early warning systems for drought and using the right indicators of meteorological, hydrological or even socio-economic droughts which happens when the demand for goods exceeds supply because of water shortage. UNCCD recommends using World Meteorological Organisation’s handbook on drought indicators and the US national drought monitoring centre’s forecasting system as a template. The report also recommends carrying out drought risk assessments, making drought prone areas resilient by educating communities and diversifying agricultural policies, and providing tools to communities to protect against severe drought like micro-insurance.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation also released a report on drought preparedness which said in South Asia, severe multi-year droughts have increased water crises and food insecurity. In India for example, 330 million people were affected by drought in 2015-16 according to the report. “Women and children were among most affected, with increases in wasting among mothers, an increase in child labour and cases of trafficking and child marriages in some of the affected states,” it added.
Climate change is expected to alter the frequency and magnitude of droughts , dry land (arid) regions are disproportionately at risk, the report said.
“Today we have 60% of the global population living with severe water scarcity for at least one month in a year. The impact on drylands specially is tremendous,” said Eduardo Mansur of the Land and Water division of FAO.
“Drought is a major obstacle to achieving sustainable development goal-15 (reverse land degradation). We need to move faster in our fight against drought. Let us dust this villain, and mitigate climate change”said Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD, Executive Secretary.
According to UNCCD an early warning system for drought is possible because of its slow onset which makes it possible to track changes in precipitation, soil moisture, social and economic behaviour.