- Steve Bays
Four disparate phenomenon, some Meteorological, some Hydrological, some Agricultural and certain Socioeconomic, converge together to produce a situation that is often referred to as a drought like condition. In the first three forms, drought is considered to be a physical phenomenon. The Socioeconomic form manifests itself when there is an unbalance between the demand and supply of water.
The metrological reason is prevalent when a certain region receives less rain in comparison to what its annual trends are. Agricultural droughts accounts for quantity of water required during different stages in a crop cycle. Hydrological drought refers to persistently low water volumes in streams, rivers and reservoirs. Too much of water drawn for irrigation or for industrial or personal consumption, by humans, upsets the demand and supply and this gives rise to the socioeconomic drought. Sometimes this kind of drought is magnified by the occurrence of a meteorological drought as well.
Whatever the reason, the effects of drought are often prolonged and deep impacting. Causing massive devastation over extended periods of time, this phenomenon affects life extremely adversely.
The direct impact of drought on the Economy of a region is quiet prominent if the region is heavily dependent on agriculture and related sectors. In addition to losses in yields in both crop and livestock production, drought is associated with a multitude of diseases and decrease in the quality and availability of top soil, due to wind erosion. This takes a long time to get repaired and further impairs any kind of growth of vegetation. The incidence uncontrolled forest fires also increase with the increasing heat and dryness in the atmosphere threatening human and animal life.
Loss of income due to lowered yields and agricultural production in turns feeds the vicious cycle of reduced demand for other house hold goods due to reduced affordability and results in large scale unemployment. The cascade effect is felt up to the State and the National level in forms of reduced revenue generated from taxes.
The decrease in ground water levels associated with drought has a cyclic effect. The heated ground and dry atmosphere acts as a retardant to moisture build up required for precipitation. Hence largely all the water bodies in the affected region dry up severely challenging the survival of the animals and plants dependent on it as well. Severe droughts can obliterate certain water dependent species completely from the affected locality. However, many species eventually recover from this temporary aberration.
And where there is scarcity, conflict, often rears its ugly head.
The depleting water levels force the local governing bodies to impose restrictions on daily water consumed by households and industrial units. There have been cases where lawsuits have been filed by one neighbor or one business rival against another for excessively using water! Fracking or hydraulic blasting of earth’s bed rock to pump out the water trapped inside, is also often a common cause for surface water abuse and dispute.
Drying up water sources effect the entire chain of manufacturers, sellers and traders of water dependent businesses like the boats and fishing equipment. Similarly other businesses that are into making agricultural equipment, Hydraulic power generation and users, Water based navigation systems, etcâ€¦face extreme difficulties in remaining viable.
The regions which fail to recover from a drought like situation, witness migration of the human and wildlife population.
In search of greener pastures life moves on leaving behind a dead piece of land, a testimony to Natures’ Fury and Man’s extreme negligence and greed.