Droughts and their consequences

Publication date: 08 September 2020
Droughts and their consequences

#DroughtRiskManagement #UNCCD #CAREC #DroughtandSDS

A drought is an event characterized by prolonged periods of below-normal precipitation levels, resulting in the deficit of available water necessary for human existence and/or economic activity. Depending on the indicators, they could be measured in terms of frequency and intensity of rainfall, by available water levels in water basins, or by yield reduction.

According to the data provided by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), about 71 per cent of the world's irrigated area and 47 per cent of major cities experience periodic water shortages. If the current trend continues, water shortages and deteriorating water quality will inevitably lead to disputes.

The consequences of droughts are dire as they threaten economy, environment and social wellbeing of the country. Droughts have a direct impact on agriculture, which is often heavily dependent on fresh water supplies. Many experts believe that potential economic damage inflicted by droughts is so significant that it is impossible to estimate it in monetary terms.

According to some reports, droughts have become more frequent in recent years and their duration has increased. UNCCD reports that 296 severe droughts took place globally between 1950 and 2000. Each of them affected an area larger than 500 thousand square kilometres and lasted for more than 3 months. Despite this fact, many countries are still employing a reactive approach when dealing with droughts and rarely are they prepared in advance for potential crises, losing large sums of money from inaction.  

Central Asian countries are gradually moving towards proactive approaches to drought risk management, with technical and institutional support from the UNCCD. In cooperation with the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC) and national experts from each of the five Central Asian countries, UNNCD is developing a Regional Drought Risk Management Strategy for Central Asia. The aim of the document is to assist Central Asian countries in capacity building and effective management of the risk caused by droughts and understand the vulnerabilities of the region in the face of droughts. 


In January 2020, a pilot project “Regional Approaches for Combating Sand and Dust Storms and Drought” has been launched in all five Central Asian countries. The project is supported by the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and implemented by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), which works in close cooperation with the Appointed National Institutions and UNCCD National Focal Points in each of the five CA countries.

Countries in Central Asia are highly vulnerable to drought and sand and dust storms (SDS), particularly outside of high-elevation areas where the climate is mostly semi-arid to arid.

In order to assist the participating countries to effectively enhance preparedness and resilience against drought and SDS, the UNCCD Secretariat in collaboration with various partners has developed drought and SDS policy advocacy frameworks. The secretariat has supported the countries in developing national drought plans, methodology frameworks, and tools needed to effectively deal with drought and SDS. Amongst other things, the secretariat has helped develop a set of measures to combat droughts and compiled the SDS Compendium and developed SDS source base-map.

You can find out more about the project by following the links below.

-        http://carececo.org/main/activity/projects/droughtSDS/

-        https://www.unccd.int/conventionregions/regional-approaches-combat-drought-sand-and-dust-storms-central-asia

The Road to Nowhere

Photo by Gennady Ratushenko (CAMP4ASB)

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