Jan 25, 2024
Nearly 1 in 4 people worldwide lived amidst droughts in 2022 and 2023, the United Nations (UN) said. And most are living in poor and moderate-income countries. This raises the perils of lack of water.
The UN, in its year-end report, did not provide an exact number of lives lost to droughts. But it said a record 258 million people face “acute hunger.” It said some face the threat of starving. The UN urged governments and the private sector to enact water management policies. It also urged for new technologies to help those living in such grim states.
Ibrahim Thiaw heads the UN agency that issued the report. In a statement, Thiaw said: “Unlike other disasters that attract (media spotlights), droughts happen silently, often (skirting notice) and failing to provoke (a speedy) public and political response.”
Thiaw said major change is needed as forecasts predict droughts will worsen. This will come as climate change makes them occur more often. Widespread dry spells deeply cut reservoir levels. They kill vital crops and wipe out biodiversity, too.
In India, for instance, drought has prompted officials to restrict the export of many rice strains. The country is the world’s largest rice supplier. So the action has pushed up rice costs. And it's threatened food security in other regions that depend on the staple food. Africa is among them.
More than 1.2 million people live in what the UN deems a “drought corridor” through Central America. It's a swath of land across El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. People there have been in great need of food aid after five years of drought. They've faced searing heat waves and fickle rainfall, the UN said.
Reflect: What role do you think technology and innovative solutions can play in helping people and countries facing the impacts of drought?
Drought Affects California’s Water Availability
These downloadable and printable visualizations include a map depicting drought conditions in California, photos of the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and pictures of the water level in the Folsom Lake marina to show the effects of drought in California during three different years.
Tolou Keurs, Senegal's Drought-Resistant Circular Gardens
This video and short article describes a new agricultural practice that is growing in popularity in Senegal.
Climate Change Impacts
This resource about the uneven impacts of climate change includes a lesson plan, a podcast, a water cycle game, discussion questions, and a resilience investigation activity.