— UN Convention to Combat Desertification (@UNCCD) May 12, 2022
The report reveals that from 1970 to 2019, weather, climate and water hazards, accounted for 50 per cent of disasters and 45 per cent of disaster-related deaths, mostly in developing countries.
Moreover, while droughts represented 15 per cent of natural disasters, they accounted for approximately 650,000 deaths throughout that period.
And from 1998 to 2017, droughts triggered global economic losses of roughly $124 billion – a number and duration of which have risen 29 per cent since 2000.
Meanwhile in 2022, more than 2.3 billion people are facing water stress and almost 160 million children are exposed to severe and prolonged droughts.
Burden on women
Droughts have deep, widespread and underestimated impacts on societies, ecosystems, and economies, having impacted some 1.4 billion people between 2000 and 2019.
Second only to flooding, droughts inflict the greatest suffering on women and girls in developing countries, in terms of education, nutrition, health, sanitation, and safety.
The publication explains that 72 per cent of women and nine per cent of girls are burdened with collecting water, in some cases spending as much as 40 per cent of their calorific intake carrying it.
Ecosystems in focus
Drought in Numbers paints a grim picture surrounding ecosystems as well, noting that the percentage of plants affected by drought has more than doubled in the last 40 years – with about 12 million hectares of land lost each year to drought and desertification.
Meanwhile, they are becoming increasingly common in the vast Amazon region, which has suffered three widespread droughts that triggered massive forest fires throughout the first two decades of this century.
If Amazonian deforestation continues unabated, 16 per cent of the region’s remaining forests will likely burn by 2050, warned the report.
And in Europe, photosynthesis was reduced by 30 per cent during a 2003 summer drought there.
In the past century, more than 10 million people died due to major drought events, which also generated several hundred billion dollars in economic losses worldwide. And the numbers are rising.