Meaning of Drought

What is Drought:

the drought It is a dry period that lasts significantly. It is characterized by the fact that during drought the availability of water is below its usual levels, and, consequently, it cannot supply the needs of living beings (animals, plants and people) that inhabit a certain region.


The main cause of drought is lack of rain or precipitationwhich is called meteorological drought.

When the meteorological drought lasts, it becomes a hydrological drought, which is characterized by the fact that the water resources of a region are below normal levels, unable to satisfy the usual demand.

A very prolonged hydrological drought, for its part, can lead to a situation of aridity, which would lead to the desertification of the land.

See also Desert.

Drought severely affects the living conditions of a place, and therefore its impact on both plant life and animal and human life is important.

Causes of drought

Drought can be due to many factors, the main one being: lack of precipitation. Precipitation occurs thanks to a series of atmospheric conditions that, if not fulfilled, can lead to the absence of rain.

Also exist climatic oscillations that affect certain regions and that generate seasons of relative scarcity of rain. An example of this is the El Nino phenomenonwhich affects part of the American continent.

However, the human factor can also contribute to creating the conditions for a drought, especially when activities are carried out that promote soil erosion and affect its ability to absorb and retain water. Thus, activities such as overexploitation, excessive irrigation or deforestation can lead to droughts.

See also Deforestation.

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Consequences of the drought

Droughts have important consequences on the environment, which in turn affect human activities, such as agriculture, the economy, health and society in general. In this sense, some of the most relevant consequences of drought on human life can be:

  • Reduction of agricultural production.
  • Nutrition problems, dehydration and related diseases.
  • Famines, a consequence of food shortages.
  • Mass migrations to flee the drought.
  • Damage to the habitat of the species in the affected region.
  • Dust storms in desert areas.
  • Social problems: conflicts and wars caused by water and food.

Types of drought

meteorological drought

Meteorological drought occurs when, for a prolonged period of time, the amount of rainfall is less than the average for a place.

agricultural drought

We speak of agricultural drought when crop production is affected due to the lack of water resources at normal levels. In this sense, it can be caused as a consequence of a meteorological drought, or, on the contrary, it can be produced due to other environmental factors, mainly due to poor management of agricultural activities and soil resources.

hydrological drought

Hydrological drought is one that occurs when the water reserves available in their natural sources, such as lakes, rivers or aquifers, fall below their normal levels. It may be due to meteorological drought, but also to the indiscriminate use of water resources.