Drought: act now before it’s too late

Droughts are occurring more frequently. Because populations are increasing and urbanising, the impact of drought on agriculture and people could be devastating. Major cities could run out of water and the resulting unrest could create civil strife, mass migration, and conflict.

drought-1745153.jpgRight now, there are droughts all over the world in every continent. Here’s a quick selection:


This blog has repeatedly reported on issues in the Cape in South Africa. CNN reports it as the worst drought in more than 100 years.


Reuters reports one of the worst droughts in decades in Southern Europe. Crops are being devastated with durum wheat and olive crops failing. What will Italy eat without pasta and olives? Grapes are shrivelling in Spain. But it’s not just the crops that are affected.  Rome will lose water for eight hours a day. France has imposed water restrictions.


There is currently a drought in Western Queensland with graziers facing more tough choices about whether to reduce flock sizes. The Water Authority in Melbourne reckons that water supply could be under threat within a decade, with the best case being a water crisis within 50 years.


Bloomberg Markets reports on a drought across the Northern Plains which is turning food crops into fodder crops as what was supposed to be wheat is only useful as hay. The consequences for consumers will be shortages and higher prices.


Drought threatens Bolivia. Since 2015, 7 of the main cities in Bolivia have suffered a critical water shortage and in November last year a state of national emergency was declared owing to drought.


Time Magazine reports that North Korea is suffering drought and that staple crops such as rice, maize, potatoes and soybean which many North Koreans rely on to get through the May to September period have been decimated by the drought. It is so bad they have had to cancel a beer festival.


India regularly features in the i2O ‘water crisis’ Google alert. South India is the area most affected by drought currently. The government says that tap water may dwindle to a trickle in the days to come.


The UK meanwhile is on notice after a dry winter. The UK received 76% of its average seasonal rainfall making the 2016/17 winter its third driest winter on record.

i2O’s view is that more needs to be done to mitigate the risks of drought given the increasing frequency of drought conditions. Long-term programmes are required to assure security of supply and to reduce average demand. But so are short-term projects that maximise the efficiency of the existing water distribution network where relatively modest investment can yield significant benefits. We have written a thought piece about drought to help policy makers and water companies mitigate the risk of drought and avoid having to rely on hope and prayer for higher rainfall.