Are we staring at a drought?

Drought-like conditions can be seen in most parts of Gujarat, west Rajasthan and some districts of Odisha. These regions have recorded extreme rain deficiency during the monsoons, according to Standard Precipitation Index (SPI) data for August maintained by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The warnings are real and have to be taken seriously. Unlike other natural disasters, such as cyclones and floods, droughts often develop slowly over a period of time. The latest inter-governmental panel on Climate Change report, which was released earlier this month, has warned that the South Asian monsoon has weakened in the second half of the 20th century. This happened mainly due to increased human activity, and that ever-rising temperature could induce more drought like situations or drought.

Since droughts happen very gradually, the governments is not able to foresee them and can’t recognise its deep long-term, impacts. often reducing the urgency that would otherwise trigger a timely and comprehensive response. India needs to expand the farm insurance net and ensure timely payments, investment in greater adoption of micro-irrigation techniques, and also introduce drought-resistant crops.

The impending drought has been substantiates as per the report of the Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) that said over a fifth of India’s land area about 21 per cent is under different degrees of drought (abnormally dry to exceptionally dry).

Last year, the corresponding figure for the same period was 7.86 per cent. DEWS is a real-time drought-monitoring platform at Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.