South Africa is facing its worst dry spell in two decades. Drought has hit the country that produces most corn in Africa, threatening this year’s food production. But the condition is not limited to Africa; three other continents around the world are experiencing historic droughts. From North America to South America and Asia, severe dry spells are affecting millions of people. Experts warn that the situation is an effect of man-made climate change.
Although drought may not be caused by global warming, it aggravates it. Climate change increases the possibility of experiencing extreme weather events — extremely dry periods and unusually high rainfall. The world’s rapidly expanding population, power generation and irrigation have increased water demands which the effects of climate change are now making very hard to satisfy.
“The situation we are facing is a very serious one,” said Nomusa Dube-Ncube, a South African government official, in a statement. “There are no signs of rain coming. We are praying.”
The condition has forced South Africa, an exporter of corn to import this year, according to the U.N. World Food Program. The country has estimated that its harvest will fall 32 percent below last year’s, raising “concerns that there could be significant food supply shortages in coming months,” USAToday quoted WFP spokesperson Jane Howard to have said.
The world has several challenges, one of them is hunger. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about 805 million of the 7.3 billion people in the world were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Drought may make things worse this year as the prices of food increases on low supply. It can also threaten water supplies and ecosystems, not to talk of its economic impact.
In the United States, drought ranks second in terms of national weather-related economic impacts, with losses nearing $9 billion every year. Western US State of California is in its fourth year of severe drought conditions, according to a University of California, Davis report. About 97 percent of the state is enduring some level of drought, per Thursday’s US Drought Monitor.
North Korea is believed to be experiencing its worst drought in 100 years while Brazil has not seen worse drought in 50 years. The harsh reality of the effects of global warming has dawned on the world. The chance of more intense droughts in the future due to man-made climate change is increasing, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The South African government said some parts of the country are experiencing their worst drought since 1992. In the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, water shortages are now at “crisis levels”.
The world must, therefore, incorporate longer-term efforts that will ensure increased resilience to more frequent or severe drought conditions and implement sound water management strategies. More importantly, cutting emissions and reducing other activities that cause global warming is critical to our future. Actions must be taken to tackle climate change.