What Are The Social Impacts Of A Drought?

Cracked ground as a result of serious drought.
Cracked ground as a result of serious drought.

Droughts are a type of natural disaster that involves below-average precipitation or a severe water supply shortage over a sustained period of time in an area.

Effects Of Drought On The Society

Water is essential to all life on Earth and a shortage of this vital resource in the environment is bound to negatively impact all forms of life. Here is a list of some of the effects of drought on the society:

Mass Migration Of People

Prolonged droughts often force populations to migrate to a new area in search of better living conditions. Often, the migrants face extreme difficulties in adjusting to life in the new location. The new location that receives such immigrants also faces the extra burden of providing a shelter, food, and other basic necessities of life to these people. The immigrants are often subjected to exploitation in the new area due to their highly vulnerable state. Many die in the process of migration or while attempting to adjust to the sudden adversities in their life.

Stress Builds Up In The Society

Quite understandably, prolonged and severe droughts lead to the build-up of extreme stress in the society. The victims of such situations are usually depressed and unhappy since water and food, the basic necessities of life, become scarce. There are often tensions within the society regarding the share of these vital resources. Social interactions decrease as people become engaged in adapting themselves to the new adversities of life.

Violence Becomes More Common

Since a large section of the population, especially the farmers, are stricken by extreme poverty during severe, prolonged droughts, tensions run high in the society. People often engage in violent activities or illegal activities to ensure that they are able to provide one square meal to their families. Competition for food and water leads to clashes between members of a society for access to these vital resources. It is the fittest who usually survive.

Severe Droughts Can Also Lead To Wars

If the drought affects more than one country, wars might erupt between two countries sharing the vital water resources. For example, if a river shared by two countries has a lower water level during a drought, the countries utilizing its waters will suffer from a water shortage. Tensions might build up between the countries regarding the volume of the water shared by each country. In worse situations, a war might erupt to solve the issue of access to the limited water supplies.

Droughts Have Negative Impacts On The Health Of The Population

Droughts usually have a negative effect on the health of the population affected by the disaster. An insufficient supply of water or the poor quality of water is directly linked to the deteriorating health of the people who are forced to used polluted water for domestic purposes and drinking. Thus, epidemics are common during such troubled times. Crop failure and resulting famines also lead to cause malnutrition, anemia, and associated mortality. The health system becomes overburdened with the high number of cases of sick people. The people thus live in constant fear due to the highly adverse living conditions prevalent during times of drought.


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