Top 10 Severe Droughts throughout History

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.


6. Drought in Russia, 2010:

A major drought hit northeastern Russia in 2010 which saw a 20-25% drop in grain production. This is quite a contrast compared to the drought of 1963 which slaughtered the livestock in Russia. There was no risk of famine then as the Soviets began importing grains. The drought of 2010 was deemed the worst in at least 50 years. The price of wheat skyrocketed.


7. Eastern Australian Drought, 1979-1983:

The drought began in 1979 and lasted through 1983. It hit most of eastern Australia which suffered from overly hot temperatures. This was quite a contrast to the whole decade of the 1970s. The 1970s saw exceptionally wet weather.


8. Tuvalu Drought, 2011:

A severe drought hit this south pacific island of 10, 5000 people. A state of emergency was declared on September 28, 2011. Much of the island was at risk of water shortage by October 4, 2011. The causes were El Nino and La Nina that flowed from changes in ocean temperatures. La Nina effected the chances of Tuvalu getting droughts.


9. Sahel Droughts, 1740-1750:

Severe droughts have affected the region on Sahel. The most severe was in 1740s and 1750s. This was the worst in 200 years. It caused a massive dislocation of the Sahelian states and disrupted the Trans Saharan trades from North Africa to Europe. This was quite the contrast to the early 1700s which saw a great deal of rain.


10. Sahel Drought, 2010:

Famine struck the region yet of Sahel again in 2010 in June. 350,000 people were starving and 1, 200,0000 were at risk of famine. Temperatures reached 47.6 degrees Celsius. 2010 was one of the worst years which saw record high temperatures across continents. Many believe that the overuse of natural resources led to such droughts.


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