Climate Change

UNCCD COP14: Droughts most disastrous for agriculture

They cost agriculture $29 billion in a decade, according to a white paper released at the conference

By Jitendra
Published: Wednesday 11 September 2019
Photo: iStock

Agriculture bore a fourth of the total losses caused by climate change-related disasters. Photo: Getty ImagesDroughts became the costliest natural disaster for agriculture in developing countries between 2005 and 2015, according to a white paper released at the at the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Drought-caused losses accounted to $29 billion to the sector in the decade, read the paper Proactive Approaches To Drought Preparedness: Where are we now and where do we go from here?.

Agriculture bore a fourth of the total losses caused by climate change-related disasters between 2003 and 2013, according to the analysis. The farming sector endured more than 80 per cent of the damage caused by drought, it added.

Meteorological disasters such as extreme temperatures and storms were the second-most harmful to agriculture with losses up to $26.5 billion. They were followed by floods ($19 billion), earthquakes and landslides ($10.5 billion), biological disasters ($9.5 billion) and wildfires ($1 billion).

The paper was prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with the UNCCD, World Meteorological Organization, Global Water Partnership, Integrated Drought Management Programme and Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture. It included assessment of the drought situation in Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and Eastern Mediterranean.

Droughts impacted energy production too and this poses significant challenges to developing regions, pointed out the paper.

Water is critical for hydropower plants, renewable technologies, cooling thermoelectric plants and extraction and processing of fuels. A prolonged drought made developing countries spend their precious resources on fuel imports, read the analysis.

For example, electric generation from hydropower and baggasse decreased by up to 40 percent in Uganda owing to deficit rainfall in 2010-11 and it had to import costly fuel for thermal power generation, it added.

Shortage of water impacted the manufacturing sector too by creating lack of power, input supply difficulties, reduction in demand and macro-economic conditions.

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