What is a drought?

A drought is when there is no rain for a long time. Droughts can affect any country in the world and can happen at any time of the year. They are most common in warmer, drier months. 


What causes droughts?

Droughts can happen naturally when there is no rainfall or snow in an area. 

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Human activity can also contribute to droughts. When land is over-farmed it loses its nutrients until nothing can grow on it anymore and it becomes dry.

When trees and plants are cut down, the land becomes drier and there is less rain. This is because trees and plants let off tiny particles of water droplets which rise into the sky to form clouds and rain.


Why are droughts dangerous?

All life on Earth needs water to survive. We need water to drink, shower and wash our clothes. We even use water to create electricity which we use for almost everything, from cooking to playing video games!

Without rain, plants will die and animals that need plants for food will also die. When lakes, streams and rivers dry up, fish and other animals die too.

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When there is a drought, crops on farmlands wilt away and people have no food to eat and no water to drink.


Types of droughts

There are 4 main types of droughts:

Meteorological drought: this is when an area doesn’t get any rain for a long time.
Agricultural drought: when there is a lack of moisture in the soil and plants do not get the water they need.
Hydrological drought: when rivers, lakes and reservoirs dry up.
Socioeconomic drought: when there is less supply of food, water and services because of a shortage of water.


Can droughts be stopped?

Droughts can’t be stopped or predicted, but we can stop wasting water. If we use water wisely then when a drought does happen, we will have more water available for ourselves and wildlife. 

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Did you know turning off the water while brushing your teeth and showering, instead of taking baths, can save more than 100 litres of water in just one month? Those are just two simple things we can all do to not waste water. Think of other ways you can save water at home.


Did you know?

  • Wildfires are more common when there are droughts.
  • During droughts, reptiles can dig themselves into the ground and stay in a sleep-like state until the ground gets moist again. 
  • Some droughts only last a few weeks but other droughts can last for years.
  • One of the worst droughts in history happened in China from 1876-1879. Over 9 million people died when the rains didn’t fall for 3 whole years.
  • Snakebites can be more common in times of drought because snakes often migrate during droughts.
  • Planting trees before a drought helps stop nutrient-rich soil from being blown away during a drought. This helps keep the land healthy and good for growing crops.