The impact of extreme droughts is increasing. Worldwide approximately 55 million people suffer from its consequences year after year. Overall, even 40 % of the world population (about 3.2 billion people) are affected by water scarcity in various ways. It is to be expected that droughts will cause up to 700 million people to flee by 2030. To raise public awareness for the international efforts to fight desertification and droughts, the World Day is commemorated each year on June 17. It was inaugurated in 1994 in addition to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Its objective is preventing desertification and land degradation as well as reducing the impact of droughts on jeopardized population groups.
Within the scope of its activities for the UN Water Programmes, ICWRGC makes various contributions to explore aridity and droughts:
GTN-H: Under the motto „From Data to Knowledge“, the cooperation of the Data Centres of the Global Terrestrial Netzwork – Hydrology (i.a. precipitation, runoff, soil moisture, water quality) offers historical observations of the water cycle and the corresponding extremes. They thus supply essential background information on meteorological, hydrological, soil moisture and groundwater droughts (contact: Dr. S. Dietrich, GTN-H coordinator).
EURO-FRIEND: In the regional group of the UNESCO-IHP flagship initiative FRIEND-Water, it is especially the Group on low-flow and drought headed by Prof. Dr. Kerstin Stahl, who actively contributes to the scientific understanding of droughts (contact: Dr. S. Dietrich, EURO-FRIEND Co-Chair).
CO-MICC: The Project investigates freshwater-related hazards caused by climate change using climate projections and their uncertainties. A data portal and methodological manual is to inform users on the options of using their data (contact: D. Caceres).
MedECC: In the Water Chapter of its first status report, the Initiative shows that the drought risk in the Mediterranean will very likely rise due to climate change. Especially in the summer months, the risk will rise substantially and impact on low-flow events and groundwater recharge amongst other factors (contact: Dr. M. Fader, coordinator of the MedECC Water Group and member of the steering committee).
ICWRGC supports further initiatives in the field of drought:
- Development of a UNESCO publication “Good practices in flood and drought risk management” in the context of the project “Enhancing climate services for improved water resources management in vulnerable regions to climate change: case studies from Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean” (CliMWaR)
- Cooperation in the WMO Action Plan for hydrology in the field „Droughts and Support to Food Security Agenda“
- Organization of the Workshop Series „Improving Urban Water Management in Western and Central Asia, Essential Quality Assured Data and Information for Integrated Urban Water Management“ in cooperation with the Regional Centre for Urban Water Management (RCUWM, Tehran) and 14 countries in the region (2021-2024)
- Development and implementation of a doctoral programme in cooperation with Windhoek University, Namibia (2021-2024) within the scope of the Southern African Science Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL).