At least 1.5 billion people have been directly affected by drought since 2000.
Changing rainfall patterns as a result of climate breakdown is a key driver of drought, but the report also identifies the inefficient use of water resources and the degradation of land under intensive agriculture and poor farming practices as playing a role. Deforestation, the overuse of fertilisers and pesticides, overgrazing and over-extraction of water for farming are also major problems, it says.
Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, said: “Drought is on the verge of becoming the next pandemic and there is no vaccine to cure it. Most of the world will be living with water stress in the next few years. Demand will outstrip supply during certain periods. Drought is a major factor in land degradation and the decline of yields for major crops.”
Roger Pulwarty, a senior scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a co-author of the report, pointed to the Danube in Europe, where recurring drought in recent years has affected transport, tourism, industry and energy generation.
The report, entitled Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Special Report on Drought 2021,
“We need to have a modernised view of drought,” he said. “We need to look at how to manage resources such as rivers and large watersheds.”