Drought can be defined as a condition of unusually dry climate within a certain geographic region due to lack of annual rainfall.
It is a natural disaster, which is hazardous to human beings because it results in water shortage, damages to crops, and an increased death rate of livestock and wild animals.
It also results in shortage of electricity. Reports show, many people worldwide die during the these extreme conditions.
In drought-prone areas certain measures such as construction of reservoirs, rain-harvest system and stopping over-grazing could be taken. It causes increase in food prices and unemployment.
The Consequences Can Be Severe
Hunger and famine - These conditions often provide too little water to support food crops, through either natural precipitation or irrigation using reserve water supplies. The same problem affects grass and grain used to feed livestock and poultry. When it undermines or destroys food sources, people go hungry. When it is severe and continues over a long period, famine may occur.
Thirst - All living things must have water to survive. People can live for weeks without food, but only a few days without water.
Pandemic - It often creates a lack of clean water for drinking, public sanitation and personal hygiene, which can lead to a wide range of life-threatening diseases.
Wildfires - The low moisture and precipitation that often characterize droughts can quickly create hazardous conditions in forests and across range lands, setting the stage for wildfires that may cause injuries or deaths as well as extensive damage to property and already shrinking food supplies.
Social conflict and war - When a precious commodity like water is in short supply due to these conditions, and the lack of water creates a corresponding lack of food, people will compete—and eventually fight and kill—to secure enough water to survive.
Migration or relocation - Faced with the other impacts of these extreme conditions many people will flee the area in search of a new home with a better supply of water, enough food, and without the disease and conflict that were present in the place they are leaving. As seen during the 1930s Great Dust Bowl.
For a map on the current US Drought conditions click the link below. This monitor map is updated weekly.
Conserving water means more water
available for critical needs for everyone.
What you can do to help save water during these extreme conditions:
In the Kitchen and Laundry
- DO make sure the dishwasher is full before turning it on. Dishwashers use between 8 and 12 gallons of water per load.
- DO make sure your clothes washer is full before turning it on. Each load of laundry usually requires 50 gallons or more of water.
- DO use a bowl of water to clean fruits and vegetables rather than running water over them. Reuse the water in the bowl to water your houseplants.
- DO store drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting the tap run every time you want a cool glass of water.
- DON'T let the water run when washing dishes
IN THE BATHROOM: (almost two-thirds of home water use is for toilet flushing and bathing!)
- DO fill the bath tub only halfway and save 10-15 gallons.
- DO take shorter showers and save 3-5 gallons of water a minute.
- DON'T use the toilet as a waste basket. Throw trash in a trash basket and avoid flushing unnecessarily.
- DON'T leave the water running when you brush your teeth or wash your hands or face. Faucets use about 2-3 gallons every minute!
- Most Important - Never put water down a drain that can be used for something else such as watering a garden or cleaning.
1930's Dust Bowl
In the 1930's, drought covered virtually the entire Plains for almost a decade (Warrick, 1980). The drought’s direct effect is most often remembered as agricultural.
Many crops were damaged by deficient rainfall, high temperatures, and high winds, as well as insect infestations and dust storms that accompanied these conditions. The resulting agricultural depression contributed to the Great Depression’s bank closures, business losses, increased unemployment, and other physical and emotional hardships.
Although records focus on other problems, the lack of precipitation would also have affected wildlife and plant life, and would have created water shortages for domestic needs.