Dry truths about Indian droughts

Cecilia Tortajada and Asit K. Biswas | New Global Indian, 2014

According to FAO, droughts are the world’s costliest natural disasters, inflicting $6-8 billion of annual global losses. Because of their extents, magnitudes and frequencies, their effects are felt by more people in the world than any other type of natural disaster. FAO further estimates that some 11 million people have died because of droughts since 1900, and over 2 billion people have suffered from them.

Global estimates in nearly all areas are highly unreliable. Drought estimations are not an exception. Not surprisingly, another UN institution, ESCAP, estimates that within the last three decades, and in Asia only, some 1.3 billion people were affected, and the cost was over $53 billion. It is difficult to believe that only in Asia, and during the past 30 years, 1.3 billion people were affected but globally over the past 115 years “only” 2 billion were impacted by droughts. Generally speaking, FAO estimates are more reliable than ESCAP’s. Be that as it may, the facts remain that droughts have affected billions of people over decades and equally have inflicted heavy costs running into billions of dollars.

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