How Do Droughts Affect Us: Read to Know Why Is It Dangerous and How to Prevent It
Effects of Drought on Humans: Why Is It So Dangerous?
Drought issues the condition, when the soil of a given region has a lack of water supply for a prolonged period so that it affects natural and cultivated flora and fauna.
Broadly speaking, drought can mean an ecological crisis that creates conditions and landscapes that closely resemble deserts.
Why are droughts bad? Drought and desertification affect all aspects of life, emphasizing that the environment and livelihoods are interdependent.
What are the causes and effects of drought? The onset of drought is usually associated with the establishment of an anticyclone. Abundant solar heat and dry air create increased evaporation (atmospheric drought), and soil moisture reserves are depleted without replenishment by rainfall (soil drought).
What happens during a drought? When drought occurs, the supply of water and hydration to plants reduces, the consumption of moisture through their root systems becomes difficult and the water for transpiration (evaporation of water by plants) begins to exceed its inflow from the soil, the water saturation of tissues decreases, and the normal conditions of photosynthesis and carbon nutrition are disrupted.
Why does drought happen? The main reasons are the climatic predisposition of some arid and semi-arid areas around the world. Another cause of the drought is the impact of populations living in ever-increasing need of new resources. As well, the economies of arid regions are based on dependence on agricultural activities, and in turn, on water and soil resources. This leads to a lot of pressure and, consequently, to an acceleration of environmental degradation and desertification. The last but not the least reason is migration and socio-economic and political consequences. Thus, poverty ultimately includes the creation of droughts, which in turn leads to greater poverty. Because of global economic pressures, populations realize overexploitation of land, and the most vulnerable populations are severely affected. That is the answer to your question: how do droughts affect us?
What Are the Effects of Drought? The Risks Associated with Drought
- How does drought affect the environment?
Drought usually causes irreversible and dramatic risks to biodiversity, soil, and vegetation impoverishment. These include modification of floristic composition, reduction of produced biomass, and the ability of vegetation to grow and reproduce.
The most dangerous effects of drought with respect to biodiversity are as follows:
- domestic fauna and wildlife, with those who are kept in very bad conditions;
- migratory birds from increasingly endangered habitats to remnant wetlands;
- flora, especially where some species are endangered;
- another environmental impact of drought is that some waterways, which were previously permanent, but lately have become intermittent. As a consequence, they have created problems for the habitats of many species.
- How do droughts affect humans?
What might be the impact of drought and desertification? Drought and desertification affect many aspects of human life. Consequences of drought for humans are that it exacerbates poverty and thus political instability. It makes a dramatic contribution to water scarcity, with internal population movements, migrations, and social class gaps. This can be a reason for social instability, tensions between neighboring countries, even armed conflicts. According to the United Nations, nearly seventy million people will leave the drought-affected areas by the end of 2021.
Another impact of this natural disaster is the socio-economic impact of drought. Land degradation due to drought problems, desertification, and climate change affects a large proportion of the planet’s arable land and has a direct impact on the livelihoods of people and the economic development of countries. It is associated with economic losses for farmers, it disrupts regional and local markets, and it is a source of social, economic, and even political instability.
The damage caused by droughts to soil impoverishment leads to poverty and sociocultural problems. Preliminary estimates made on the negative effects of drought in Europe propose the figure for damage to agriculture and drought affected farmers of more than 1 billion euros and damage caused by fires to 1.6 billion euros.
The drought threatens cultural heritage as well! Communities that live in or around deserts, live in perfect harmony with nature, and maintain traditions and common knowledge, these values are threatened by economic pressures and growing environmental problems caused by drought, desertification, and climate change. It is clear, though, that if people must abandon their culture in order to survive or adopt a new way of life, a priceless global treasure will be lost.
- How does drought affect agriculture?
Risks associated with the effects of drought on agriculture are the following:
- degradation associated with overexploitation to exhaustion, poor land use in arid regions and global climate change;
- degradation of the soil associated with overgrazing, which destroys and reduces the vegetation cover that protects the soil from erosion;
- soil depletion associated with poor irrigation practices, increased salinity, and drainage of waterways that feed large lakes;
- deforestation, the destruction of trees that protect the land from hydration and wind erosion. Wood is an internal independent source of energy (lighting, cooking) in many arid areas;
In extreme conditions, drought dangers with the locust invasions, which will lead to catastrophic consequences for the environment, as well as for the economies of developing countries.
- How does drought affect animals?
Extreme drought affects all kinds of animals, from large to small. With the onset of drought periods, there is no longer enough succulent greenery, from which plant-eating species suffer first and foremost. Ungulates at such times migrate to neighboring favorable areas. However, many small animals like rodents are not capable of long migrations. They have to stay in conditions of drought and somehow adapt to it.
Where Does Drought Mostly Occur?
First, we need to divide the areas affected by drought into specific zones:
- zones with precipitation less than 100 mm are called hyper-arid zones;
- arid zones are those zones, where precipitation is higher than 100 mm, but less than 350 mm;
- in semi-arid zones there is about 400 to 650 mm of precipitation;
- sub-humid zones are zones with more than 600 mm of precipitation.
According to UNESCO statistics, there are more than 110 states with arid lands that could be subject to desertification. Although these drylands are distributed throughout Africa, they also cover large areas of Latin America, South America, Asia, and Australia.However, the continent that suffers particularly from drought in Africa, with almost 60% of its territory either desert or arid land.
How does drought affect people in Africa? As we know, even before the Global warming problem, Africa was the content, which suffered much from drought. The statistics show that the yearly cost of combating the drought damage is around 1,5 to 10% of the GDP of African countries. The most affected countries of Africa are sub-Saharan countries. They spend annually huge amounts of money to prevent the environmental effects of drought. That means that this natural disaster reduces the economic resources of poor African countries. The World Bank estimates such losses at the level of 20% of possible GDP.
Two-thirds of the African continent is desert or arid land. Africa includes vast arid croplands, of which nearly three-quarters are degraded to varying degrees. In Africa, droughts are severe and frequent. Many African countries are obliged to actively use their natural resources to sustain themselves. The desertification of the continent has serious consequences in terms of poverty and food security. As more and more areas of Africa are exposed to desertification processes, vegetation has disappeared on hundreds of millions of hectares and a thin layer of soil has been carried away by the wind. Each year the Sahara emits nearly a billion tons of dust into the atmosphere. More than 100 million tons of this dust goes to Europe. They pose real health problems for people in Southern Europe, such as Spain, because these fine particles degrade the quality of the air we breathe.
Are There Ways to Prevent Drought and Desertification?
There are early warning systems that can predict drought and desertification so that plans can be implemented to prepare for these risks. Regarding drought, there is a set of measures that extend to farms. There are strategies for crop replacement, soil and water protection, or water restoration methods that can increase the resilience of soils to drought and provide for the needs of life; this will reduce environmental refugees, and drought relief will no longer be an emergency.