The Impacts of Drought

The impacts of drought are diverse and often ripple through the economy. Thus, impacts are often referred to as either direct or indirect. A loss of yield resulting from drought is a direct or first-order impact of drought. However, the consequences of that impact (for example, loss of income, farm foreclosures, and government relief programs) are secondary or even tertiary impacts. The impacts of drought appear to be increasing in both developing and developed countries, which in many cases reflects the persistence of no sustainable development and population growth. Lessening the impacts of future drought events will require nations to pursue development of drought policies that emphasize a wide range of risk management techniques, including improved monitoring and early warning systems, preparedness plans, and appropriate mitigation actions and programs.

Management alternatives during drought

Many of the management alternatives available to water suppliers to prepare for and respond to drought events fall into two broad categories: demand management and supply augmentation.

Demand Management

• Public information and education campaigns • Emergency conservation programs • Water service restrictions • Restrictions on nonessential uses of water • Prohibition of selected commercial uses • Drought emergency pricing • Water rationing programs • Augmentation • Improvements in water systems (for example, leak detection, lining of transmission canals) • Emergency sources of supply (for example, emergency interconnections, drilling new wells) • Management of available water resources (for example, emergency water banks, over drafting of groundwater aquifers) • Search for new supplies of water.

In summary, increased emphasis can and should be placed on drought mitigation and preparedness, as well as prediction and early warning capabilities, if society is to reduce the economic and environmental damages associated with drought and its personal hardships. This will require interdisciplinary cooperation and a collaborative effort with policymakers at all levels.