Droughts

Drought is a phenomenon that comes under geography in the strict sense of the word but has reverberations across various fields. This is because droughts affect the livelihood and economies and even lives of people affected by it. Hence, it assumes importance for the UPSC exam. In this article, we talk about droughts for the IAS exam.

The term ‘Drought’ in simple words is the absence of water for a long period of time, at a place where it is considered abnormal as compared to its usual conditions. The distribution of water on the earth’s surface is not even. Some places have lots of fresh water e.g. rivers, lakes, lagoons, ponds etc.  and they are continuously replenished by rainfall and water from underground.

If a region that has had lots of rainfall, goes for a couple of weeks without rains, and people, animals and plants begin to experience a bit of dryness, it can be called a drought. Drought can be defined as a relatively long time where there is not enough water than there usually is, as a result of dry weather, to support human, animal and plant life. Droughts become an issue only when it begins to affect water supply for irrigation, municipal, industrial, energy, and ecosystem function. Severe droughts can have serious consequences. Following are the kinds of droughts:

Meteorological drought:

Meteorological drought is the general lack of moisture in the weather such as lack of precipitation, and the play of other weather conditions such as dry winds, high temperatures and so on.

Agricultural drought:

This drought happens when atmospheric moisture is reduced to an extent that soil moisture is affected. This affects crops, animals and also evapotranspiration.

Hydrological drought:

Occurs when there is a deficiency in the surface and groundwater supply in a region, often due to less precipitation, unrestrained reliance on surface water for farming, energy and other needs.

Socioeconomic drought:

This is when the supply of some goods and services like food, drinking water and energy are diminished or threatened by changes in hydrological and meteorological conditions. Sometimes it is even made worse by growing populations and excessive demands of such goods, to the point that it creates stress on the little water available. It takes a very long time for this kind of drought to get into full gear, and a long time to recover from it.

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