Top 10 Severe Droughts throughout History

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Droughts are caused by a lack of rain for a prolonged period of time. There is not enough moisture for the ground to absorb before the water evaporates. Without water, plants, animals and humans die. Throughout history, droughts have been synonymous with disaster, especially in the following 10 cases.


1. 2011 East Africa Drought:

The whole of East Africa region is affected by a severe drought. This has caused a severe shortage in food across Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. Approximately 9.5 million people have been affected and over 29,000 children under the age of 5 died between May and July of 2011; 50-100,000 people in total. Kenya and Ethiopia now suffer from overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and malnutrition with the addition of Somalian refugees.


2. Drought of the 1930s:

This was one of the worst droughts in the 20th century. 23 states across the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys and mid-Atlantic region got caught in this environmental disaster. Much of the Canadian West was also affected, including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The drought brought about a sever dust storm called The Dust Bowl which was a major ecological and agricultural disaster for Canadian and American prairies up until 1940. With the market crash in 1929, things were not looking well for the people who subsisted on farming.


3. Drought in Northern China, 2010-2011:

A severe drought hit China in 2010. This was one of the worst since 1941 which killed 3 million people. It affected 8 provinces in the northern region of China. Lack of precipitation led to lower than normal snow cover, making wheat crops at risk of being killed by frost. No moisture was also a barrier to livestock liveliness.


4. Droughts in East Asia & Southeast Asia, 2010:

Severe droughts followed by a dust storm hit numerous provinces of Southwest China, Thailand and Vietnam in March and April of 2010. Temperatures rose 20 degrees Celsius more than normal and were unprecedented since 1950s. 51 million people faced water shortages and there was a shortage of various commodities such as sugar, tea, potatoes and rapeseed.


5. Federation Drought:

This prolonged period of drought occurred in Australia around 1901 and the turn of the century. Over half the continent was affected by the drought. Severe dryness had affected the region previous since late 1890s, especially in 1896 when hot spells and numerous bushfires hit Gippsland. Things began to break in 1902 in Victoria when rain finally fell.


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