Abidjan, 13 May 2022 (TDI): Droughts constituted fifteen percent of the natural disasters and resulted in 650,000 deaths during the last five decades. These facts were shared by the Head of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

He warned that humanity is at crossroads in drought management and requires substantial input to slow it down. He stressed using every available tool to support drought preparedness and resilience.

“Facts and figures of this publication all point in the same direction: An upward trajectory in the duration of droughts and the severity of impacts, affecting human societies and the ecological systems upon which the survival of all life depends, including that of our species.” UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw delivered these remarks.

Drought in Numbers

He was sharing the funding of the report on Drought in Numbers with the panel for the conference’s outcomes when it closes on 20 May.

The report focuses on data and information gathered between 1970-2019 on Climate, water, and weather hazards, which resulted in 50% of disasters and 45% of disaster-related deaths.

The report also highlighted that most of the deaths occurred in developing countries. It highlighted that droughts triggered $124 billion in losses which have risen to 20% since 2000. The report warns that the economic and human casualties are expected to grow.

Impact on Humanity

The unprecedented impacts of drought severely impact societies, ecosystems, and economies. 1.4 billion people were affected by drought between 2000-2019.

2.3 billion people face water stress, while 160 million people face prolonged droughts. Seventy-two percent of women and 9 percent of girls are burdened with water collection and may spend 40 percent of their calorific intake on water collection.

Focus on ecosystems

Twelve million hectares of land is lost each year due to drought and desertification, warns the report. Droughts are becoming common in Amazon and have been the leading source of forest fires in the last two decades.

The continuation of this situation can result in a 16 percent burn of the region’s forests. Droughts have reduced photosynthesis in Europe by 30 percent since 2003.

Africa is worst affected by drought accounting for 45 major drought events in the last century. Droughts have severely impacted 17% population and 15% of land in Africa. Drought-induced crop failure in the USA has resulted in $249 billion in economic losses.

Finding Solutions

“One of the best, most comprehensive solutions is land restoration, which addresses many of the underlying factors of degraded water cycles and the loss of soil fertility,” said Thiaw.

He stressed on paradigm shift for building and rebuilding landscapes and functional ecosystems beyond restoration. He also emphasized reactive and coordinated, cooperative crisis-based approaches driven by the financial and political will to combat desertification.

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