Drought – UPSC GS1

What are the different types of droughts? Write a note on the causes and consequences of droughts. (200 Words)

Drought is a temporary reduction in water or moisture availability below the normal or expected amount for a specific period.
Types of Droughts :
    • Meteorological Drought: It is a situation where there is a reduction in rainfall for a specific period below a specific amount.
    • Hydrological Drought: It is associated with reduction of water. There are two types of hydrological droughts,
      • Surface Water Drought: It is concerned with drying up of surface water resources such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, tanks, reservoirs etc.
      • Ground Water Drought: It is associated with the fall in the ground water level.
    • Agricultural Drought: It is also called Soil Moisture Drought. When soil moisture and rainfall conditions are not adequate enough to support the crops, thereby resulting in crop failures.
    • Ecological Drought: When the productivity of a natural ecosystem fails due to shortage of water and as a consequence of ecological distress, damages are induced in the ecosystem.
Causes of Droughts:
A) Causes of Meteorological Droughts:
    1. Lean monsoon and below average rainfall
    2. Late onset or early withdrawal of monsoons
    3. Prolonged breaks in Monsoon
B) Causes of Hydrological Droughts :
    1. Large scale deforestation
    2. Ecologically hazardous mining
    3. Excessive pumping of ground water
C) Causes of Agricultural Droughts:
    1. Excessive use of HYV(High Yielding Varieties) seeds
    2. Change in cropping pattern e.g. with introduction of green revolution
Consequences of Droughts:
    • Economic Losses:
    1. Decline in cultivated area and fall in agricultural production
    2. Slowing down of secondary and tertiary activities due to fall in agricultural production and decline in purchasing power.
    • Environmental Impacts:
    1. Damages to plant and animal species, wildlife habitat, and air and water quality; forest and range fires; degradation of landscape quality; and soil erosion.
    2. Meteorological droughts adversely affects the recharge of soil moisture, surface runoff and ground water table.
C) Impacts on Society:
    1. Migration of people from drought hit areas to other areas in search of livelihood and food.
    2. Farmers tend to commit suicide e.g. Farmers in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka etc.
    3. Disruption of social institutions and increase in social crime
    4. Scarcity of drinking water, food grains and hence causes famine and starvation.
    5. Ill health and spread of diseases like diarrhoea ,dysentery, cholera etc. caused by malnutrition ,hunger and sometimes causes death.
Dissemination of knowledge about drought-resistant crops and proper training to practice the same that will be helpful in drought-mitigation. Rainwater harvesting, inter-linking of rivers will be effective measures to minimize the effect of droughts. Also there should be emphasis on drought mitigation and preparedness, as well as prediction and early warning capabilities.
Most drought prone areas in India:
    • Northwest region of India: area receives the residual rain from the monsoon as monsoon time over the region is nearly 2 months
    • Some parts of West Central India and
    • Peninsular region : Peninsular is leeward side of western ghat so very little rain cloud move over the area adding to it the area lacks irrigation and local specific irrigation like tank irrigation have been neglected. Adding to the deficit rainfall the crops which are chosen on commercial basis are not suitable for that agro region like cotton and sugarcane in marathwada which demand very high water
Other naturally drought prone areas are the Kutch and the thar desert region which cannot be fully rectified, what can be done is to reduce the impact like using irrigation methods and crops suitable for the region like guar gum and gram under drip irrigation.


What are the short term and long term solutions to fight drought in India? Examine. (200 Words)
Short term measures
    1. The proper timely wage payments through MNREGA
    2. Implementation of NFSA in the states must be expedited
    3. Saving the water resources in this season is important. Instead of recklessly using water for entertainment and sports, the water could be utilised for sustenance purposes.
    4. The power plants must judicially utilise water. Ex: Recently Farakka power plant had to reduce consumption of water for attending the sustenance needs.
    5. Hoarding, black marketing must be kept in check by using Essential commodities Act
    6. Government procurement of fodder or shifting cattle to another nearby areas.
    7. Arrangement for subsidized water tankers.
    8. Strict implementation of FSA,MDM and PDS additional supply of dry proteinases food.
    9. Medical supports like hydration solutions ORS
    10. Lenient support for crop damages via Crop Insurance payments.
Long term measures
    1. The water usage efficiency must be seen in the long term. Construction of Hydro projects and lift irrigation is a key for many states.
    2. Mini irrigation projects, check dams and other water works in the villages.
    3. Water usage efficiency especially for agriculture through drip irrigation, etc. Drought resistant varieties through GM crops can also be considered
    4. Shifting to other sources of energy like Solar, biogas, etc.
    5. Many software Industries have aesthetic constructions with glass walls which follow Western nations. However, these constructions simply are not proper for India as we have high insolation. The greenhouse effect because of glass utilizes high power. So environmentally sustainable construction must be designed based on indigenous materials.
    6. Increase the storage facilities through cold storage and food parks as well as other infrastructure facilities.
Steps taken by government:
    • Ensured availability of drinking water
    • MNREGA work days increased to 150 from 100
    • Food grain allocation increased in Bundelkhand
    • Bundelkhand package: money released by NITI ayog to complete Piped Water Schemes on priority.
    • Draught proofing : water tanks, building of dug wells, farm ponds etc. being built on priority
Draught in Brazil :
The issue of the worst drought in brazil is a complex one tied to local problems and the government’s own drive to develop the Amazon region, home to nearly 25 million people.
Causes include:
    1. Amazon deforestation : “sky rivers” are generated by the forest acting as a massive pump, according to research that has shown the jungle’s uniform humidity consistently lowers atmospheric pressure in the Amazon basin—> allows it to draw moist air currents from the Atlantic Ocean much farther inland than areas that don’t have forests —>currents travel west across the continent until they hit the Andes mountains, where they pivot and carry rains. Weakening of this mechanism has been the main cause of the drought
    2. Govt failure : failure to upgrade and maintain the necessary infrastructure to stop water being stolen or wasted in transit, with as much as 37% system leakages
    3. Coastal population : There is also the exacerbation by population concentration around the coasts
    4. Water intensive agriculture: like sugarcane monoculture without much diversification
    5. Water intensive industries and water hoarding by such industries
    6. Polluted rivers and open sewers
    7. Self-re-enforcing cycle : drought—>reduced hydroelectricity—->increased use of fossil fuel—>micro & macro climatic changes
These are having a multiplicity of repercussions :
    1. Agriculture has been hit especially the coffee plantation pushing up prices in international markets
    2. Industries have been dually hit due to low water supply and electricity cuts. Many have been shut down
    3. Most affected are the poor receiving water only 2 days a week
    4. Overall economy is going into a slowdown
As suggested by norbe report Brazil needs a five-point plan to prevent further destruction to the Amazon;
•  spreading rainforest education
•  ending deforestation
•  ending fire-clearing techniques
•  encouraging rainforest regeneration
•  world leaders to act to prevent potential crisis.
The trick is finding the balance, to be able to use the jungle to benefit the population without destroying it in the process.


“The prevailing water crisis in Maharashtra is not about the unavailability of water resources. It’s all about criminal mismanagement of available resources. The drought is a man-made disaster.” Critically comment. (200 Words)
Why this drought is man-made:
    • Inefficient irrigation technologies like flood irrigation are used in the areas effected by present water crisis in Maharashtra that leads to huge waste of water.
    • A number of politicians are personally involved in the sugarcane industries in these area. This has been one of the main reasons of lack of political will to deal with this situation by political leaders.
    • Despite Sugarcane being a 365 day crop, it has been promoted in these areas.
    • Since Maharashtra has been drought effected in the past, previous governments has not been active in tackling the issue in effective way
    • Water crisis like situation has arisen in the areas where sugarcane industries has been established in the past. It is alleged that sugarcane industries has been using water inefficiently in the past.
Government steps:
    • Government has done a great help by increasing the number of days of employment in MGNREGA in such drought effected areas from 100 to 150 days.
    • Maharashtra government has allocated 75000 crore for the irrigation and is active in dealing the issue
The present Water crisis can be tackled in effective way by promoting latest irrigation technologies like drip irrigation(saves 40-50% water compare to traditional irrigation facilities), ground water harvesting and the experiences of other states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and expertise in these field by other countries like Israel.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top