At the 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) being held at Delhi NCR, a ‘Drought Toolbox’ that will forecast an impending drought has been launched.
- The toolbox will not only forecast a future drought but will also suggest ways to mitigate its impact of acute water scarcity.
- Any country can use the toolbox to assess its drought conditions and prepare in advance for water shortage.
- The Drought Toolbox uses 30 parameters such as soil moisture, temperature and rainfall data of the past and the present, etc.
- It provides a range of tools and solutions based on three key pillars: monitoring and early warning, vulnerability and risk assessment, and risk mitigation.
- The drought monitoring an early warning systems will track, assess, monitor and provide information regarding the hydrological cycle, water supply conditions and trends.
- The toolbox can accurately point out drought risk across geographical regions.
- Already 70 countries have shown their interest to use the toolbox.
- It will also help countries to fine-tune their national drought policies and be better prepared to tackle drought conditions.
- A tool for forecasting droughts and minimise their impacts was thought long ago.
- Droughts have a wider socio-economic impact on people.
- It is estimated that between 2005-15 the global economic loss due to droughts was $29 billion. But, it has now risen to $80 billion per year.
- They have caused loss of food grains which otherwise could have fed 81 million people every day.
- As per the World Bank study, droughts are four times costlier than floods.
- Also, a two-degree rise in temperature in the future will put the lives of 441 million people in danger due to droughts.
- Thus the need for a forecasting toolbox.
- It was only in the last two years that many countries have suggested the UNCCD come up with a template for the toolbox.
- UNCCD along with other UN Organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the University of Nebraska in the US joined hands to develop the toolbox.
- Prevalence of drought hampers achieving SDG-15 of Sustainable Development Goals.
- It calls for taking care of the land through proper management of forests, combating desertification and restoration of degraded land.
- Drought has a direct relation to desertification and land degradation.
In the recent summer months, most parts of the country have faced droughts. Some were mild while others were severe. Women were the most vulnerable groups due to droughts as they are culturally ascribed to fetching water from long distances. The Drought Toolbox developed by UNCCD with its advance forecasting will come in handy for countries like India and other low- and middle-income countries. Preparations can be made in advance to avert any life-threatening situations. It will help the policymakers to be proactive towards drought and reduce its impact on their citizens