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What Happens During a Drought

What Happens During a Drought? How Does it Affect Our Lives?

A drought is caused by lack of precipitation in an area which leads to drying up of land and crops. This article will tell you about what happens during a drought and its after effects.
Shalu Bhatti
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
"I think we are bound to, and by, nature. We may want to deny this connection and try to believe we control the external world, but every time there's a snowstorm or drought, we know our fate is tied to the world around us." ~ Alice Hoffman

Natural calamities don't come with a warning, but this is not the case with every natural calamity..., like in case of a drought? A drought occurs when a region experiences shortage of irrigation due to lack of water supply, and that too for an extended period of time. When you refer to a natural condition as a 'drought', it is important to keep in mind the normal precipitation rates of that area, because what may seem to be a drought in the United States, wouldn't necessarily be considered the same in dry regions of Africa. Speaking of what happens during a drought, the answer to this question is widespread in each and every aspect of life. Water is the basic source of food and survival. We need the adequate amount of water for our day-to-day existence, be it for the purpose of drinking, cleaning, cooking or generating electricity! When nature ceases to supply the adequate amount of water, each and everything on this planet is affected by it. All this will be explained as this article proceeds further.

Significant Effects of Drought

What comes into your mind when you think of droughts? You think of cracked fields, dried up crops, animals lying dead due to lack of food and water, right? But, do you think that a drought affects only plants and animals? Do you think that drought occurs only in under developed regions? Well, think again! You would be surprised to know that according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, drought is supposed to be one of the costliest natural disaster, leading to an average expense of 6-8 billion dollars every year! Each and everything in this planet is interrelated to each other, either directly or indirectly. Some of the effects of what happens as a result of a drought are mentioned below.

Environmental Effects of Drought
The environment is the first thing that is affected by a drought. I mean one can clearly see as to what happens to the environment around you. The dried up plants, the fallen trees, the cracked surfaces of the ground, and the scorching heat. Read on the points below to understand the deeper effect of a drought on the environment.
  • Destruction of agricultural crops and plants results in shortage of food, both to animals and humans.
  • Depletion of water levels in the lakes, ponds and other water reservoirs.
  • Lack of food and water can also cause death of certain species, including endangered species.
  • Increase in soil erosion as the plant roots holding on to the soil end up drying, which also results in dust storms and blizzards.
  • Water is an essential part of the habitat of each and every species, be it aquatic or terrestrial. Another thing that happens during a drought is habitat destruction.
  • Another environmental change due to a drought in a region is migration of snakes and reptiles to human habitats. This can lead to a potential threat to the human living space as there can be increase in snakebites.
  • Drought leads to dryness of plant covers in the ground due to which, there are higher chances of bushfire in case of lightning.
  • Drought also leads to depletion in the quality of soil which affects its productivity, and eventually the habitat around. It also leads to loss of wetlands.
  • The environment around is also affected by various diseases, especially in the animals due to lack of food and water. The various species of animals are also harmed. Also, due to the drought, the living organisms in the water bodies also end up dying.
Economical Effects of Drought
You have already read about the billions of dollars that the United States spends due to drought. Mentioned below are some key points to help you understand the economic impact of a drought.
  • The first people to suffer from economical losses are the farmers who end up losing the monetary worth of all their hard work in the field. There are lower yields, the quality of which is also not up to the mark. Another loss bearing factor to the farmers would be to invest their money to provide artificial means of irrigation and water.
  • As droughts lead to death of animals due to lack of food and water, ranchers too, may have to suffer the loss of valuable livestock!
  • People involved in agriculture related businesses like fisheries, wood industries, vegetation and plantation, end up suffering losses due to low productivity as a result of the condition.
  • Businesses which are indirectly related to agriculture like manufacturing companies for machinery and equipment for agriculture related field are also affected. An example for the same would be, businesses suffering loss in terms of sending and receiving goods through water transportation due to low levels of water in rivers.
  • Increase in your utility bills for water and electricity as the power companies will have to put in more investment to get other means of water to fulfill the required supply.
  • Because there will be lesser crop yield, people will have to pay more for food items like legumes and vegetables because of scarcity.
Social Effects of Drought
I don't know if you would agree to this statement or not, but this world is all about the survival of the fittest! When it comes to surviving in harsh conditions created by a drought, there can be a lot of social consequences. Some of them are mentioned as follows.
  • What is the one thing that you love about the summers? Let me guess, beach party, swimming in the water and drinking those chilled fruit juices. But because there is shortage of water and even food, we will have lesser recreational activities!
  • Because of the economic impact, there will be an obvious change in the lifestyle of the people due to reduced income.
  • Many farmers, especially in under developed countries end up committing suicide due to the loss caused by the drought.
  • Many health problems like stress, depression, dehydration, and other issues can come up as a result of the overall impact of drought on the human life and surroundings.
  • There is an obvious threat to the safety of humans, not only because of the weather conditions, but also due to issues like migration of dangerous animals like snakes nearing the human habitat and wildfires.
  • Not only animals, but even humans tend to migrate from these areas to areas where they can live at peace, physically, emotionally and financially.
So these were some of the main highlights of what happens during a drought and how it affects each and every living species on the planet. After understanding the consequences of a drought, you must be wondering what causes droughts, and what must be done to prepare oneself for it. Well, it is not unless we face these situations that we would realize the importance of saving trees, recycling, and water conservation. No matter how powerful technology gets, or how powerful we humans think that we are, the fact remains that unless we do not value the environment in which we are living (which is the ultimate source of food and water), more than money and wealth, nothing can save us from the thrashing of mother nature. I mean what could we humans do when mishaps like tsunami and hurricane Katrina occurred? Let us take care of the environment, so that it can take care of us.