Drought for UPSC IAS
  • A drought is a period of unusually persistent dry weather that persists long enough to cause serious problems such as crop damage and/or water supply shortages.
  • The severity of the drought depends upon the degree of moisture deficiency, the duration, and the size of the affected area.

Classification of Drought

  • Meteorological Drought: It is classified based on rainfall deficiency with respect to long term average, where 25% or less is normal, 26-50% is moderate and more than 50% is severe.
  • Hydrological Drought: It is defined as deficiencies in surface and subsurface water supplies leading to a lack of water for normal and specific needs. Such conditions arise even in times of average (or above average) precipitation when increased usage of water diminishes the reserves
  • Agricultural Drought: It is identified with soil moisture deficiency in relation to meteorological droughts and climatic factors and their impacts on agricultural production and economic profitability.
  • Ecological drought: When the productivity of the natural ecosystem diminishes due to water shortage which causes ecological distress and ecosystem damage.

Drought Prone Areas

  • In India, around 68% of the country is prone to drought to varying degrees.
  • The 35% area which receives rainfall between 750 mm and 1125 mm is considered drought prone while 33% receiving less than 750 mm is chronically drought-prone.

Major Causes of Drought

  • Variability in rainfall
  • Deviation in the route of monsoon winds
  • Early withdrawal of the monsoon
  • Forest fires
  • Frequently occurring El NINO events
  • Land degradation in addition to Climate change.

Impacts of drought

  • Drought causes economic, environmental and social impacts.
    • The first round impacts on agriculture and water resources account for a significant proportion of drought impacts.
    • Others are follow-up impacts on the population immediately affected by droughts, such as farmer incomes and the health, nutrition, and education status of drought-affected populations.
    • A third level is on downstream activities, such as industries reliant on agriculture and water.
    • Finally, there are the diffuse and longer-term impacts on growth, trade, foreign exchange, fiscal balance, and so on.
  • Crop Weather Watch Group (CWWG), an inter-Ministerial mechanism, evaluates information and data furnished by IMD and other scientific and technical bodies to determine the likely impact of meteorological events and other environmental parameters on agriculture.

Drought Management in India

  • Drought Mitigation Programs
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY)
  • National Rainfed Area Programme- the objective of the programme is to increase agricultural productivity in rainfed areas in a sustainable manner by adopting an appropriate farming system
  • Water Harvesting and Conservation-Farm Ponds, Percolation Tanks (PT) / Spreading Basin, Some traditional water harvesting methods like Tankas / Kunds / Kundis In the desert and arid areas of Rajasthan.
  • Rainwater Harvesting in Urban Areas
  • Afforestation -National Green Mission is an important program to improve afforestation along with the creation of green corridors.
  • Monitoring and Early warning systems at Central and State level to declare ‘Drought’
  • Drought relief and response measures are initiated following the declaration of drought.

Latest News

  • 18 April 2023:
    • As per a recent study, flash droughts occurred more often than conventional ‘slow’ droughts in tropical places like India, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Amazon basin.


  1. Wikipedia
  2. Indian Express

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