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What is a drought?

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

Almost everyone loves rains. We keenly wait for the rainy season to come after the summers. In many parts of our country, people do special rituals and prayers to bring about the rains in their respective areas. Drought is a type of natural calamity that occurs when an area gets less than its normal amount of rain over months or even years.

What causes a drought?

Just take out some time and think about how much water you use in a day. You drink water and use it to take a shower, brush your teeth and clean various items at home. Now can you imagine going without water for a week or longer? Well, that is exactly what happens during the droughts. There occurs a severe dearth of water in the areas that are hit by a drought.
The distribution of all the water on the earth’s surface is not even. While some places have lots of fresh water available in form of lakes and rivers, there are areas that have hardly any water. This is the reason droughts have been occurring for several hundreds of years, and still, keep occurring in different parts of the world.

4 Types of drought

  1. Meteorological drought : Meteorological drought is caused by the lack of rains and dry weather is the main factor for this type of natural calamity.
  2. Agricultural drought : Agricultural drought occurs due to the lack of moisture in the soil and affects crops.
  3. Hydrological drought : Hydrological droughts takes place when there is an acute shortage of surface water and ground water supply in a particular region, often as a result of less or no rains.
  4. Socio – economical drought : Socioeconomic drought occurs when the supply of some goods and services such as energy, food and drinking water become scarce because of a shortage of water and dry weather.

Effects of drought

Droughts have a drastic effect on all forms of life – be it animals, plants or humans. Since all living beings need water to survive, so an extreme drought causes them to die. Without water, humans are at risk of dying because of dehydration or hunger. Yes, hunger too because no water means no crops, and no crops mean no food supply. A severe shortage of both food and water is also known as famine. All of you know that India is predominantly an agricultural country. Agriculture in India is heavily dependent on climatic conditions. A favorable southwest summer monsoon is vital to get water for irrigating the Indian crops. In some parts of India, the failure of the monsoons results in water shortages and poor crop yields. This is especially true of the drought-prone regions such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujrat, and Telangana. In the past, droughts have led to major Indian famines, including the Bengal famine of 1770, in which about one-third of the population died; the 1876 – 1877 famine, in which more than five million people died, the 1899 famine, in which over 4.5 million died and the recent drought in 1900 in India that resulted in the death of more than 5 million people. Millions of families have suffered not just in India, but all over the world because of droughts.

How can we prevent drought?

Water is a precious natural resource that is required for the survival of all living things on this planet, and so it is our duty to save it. We cannot prevent droughts from happening, but we can surely help in mitigating the impacts of drought by conserving water. If we use water wisely at all times, more water will be available to us and to other life forms when drought occurs. Every day we lose a lot of water doing simple everyday tasks. Did you know that by turning off the water while brushing your teeth and showering can save more than 100 liters of water in one month? We are sure that all of the wise children reading this article would have understood the importance of water in our lives and will take every necessary step to prevent its wastage.

3 Interesting facts about droughts

1. Droughts can cause dust bowls in certain areas which means that the top layer of soil gets completely blown away, leaving behind nutrient-deficient soil to sustain crop growth.

2. Droughts often result in wildfires as the vegetation becomes dry and more prone to catching fire.

3. While drought is mostly caused by irregular weather patterns, human activity can also be a cause of drought. Deforestation, farming, excessive irrigation, erosion, and climate change due to global warming are all human causes of drought