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UNCCD Report Highlights Escalating Global Impact of Drought

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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UNCCD Report Highlights Escalating Global Impact of Drought

A recent report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has thrown light on the escalating global impact of drought. The report, titled 'Global Drought Overview 2023', was released on December 1 at the COP28 in Dubai. It warns of an impending planetary emergency, as it unpacks drought data from the year 2022, presenting a bleak outlook for regions across the world.

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Stark Data Reveals Unprecedented Impact

The UNCCD report shares alarming statistics from various parts of the world. It points out that the Plata river basin in South America was subjected to its worst drought since 1944. In Asia, China's Yangtze River recorded its lowest-ever levels, leaving nearly 5 million people at its mercy. Europe also grappled with its hottest summer on record, with drought affecting an area equivalent to the combined size of Poland and Italy - a significant increase from the annual average between 2000 and 2022.

Humanitarian Crises and Ecosystem Disruption

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The Horn of Africa, a region already battling persistent drought, has seen severe food insecurity for 23 million people due to five consecutive seasons of insufficient rainfall. In a cruel twist of irony, the recent heavy rains in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia resulted in hundreds of deaths over a short span of a few weeks, displacing over a million people. Drought's impact, though silent, is devastating, affecting not only human lives but also ecosystems and economies.

Future Forecast: Grave and Grueling

The report, which is based on feedback from 101 countries in 2023, estimates that 1.84 billion people are affected by drought, with 4.7% experiencing severe or extreme conditions. It draws from scientific publications and reports from the World Bank and other organizations. UNCCD warns that the duration and intensity of droughts are expected to double in some regions of China by the end of the century. The lethal combination of extreme heat and drought could potentially affect up to 55% of the Chinese population, especially if high greenhouse gas emission scenarios persist.

According to UNCCD Secretary-General, Ibrahim Thiaw, the attention drought receives is disproportionately low compared to other climate issues. Yet, the effects of drought echo across the globe, silently and persistently, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to improve resiliency and address climate change.

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