India, 195 nations join hands to fight drought: Basics Explained

India, at the deliberations at the 15th session (CO) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, a West African country, along with other nations, pledge to accelerate the restoration of one billion hectares of degraded land globally by 2030.

  • 196 countries, including India, adopted 38 decisions to step up drought preparedness and give new political and financial impetus to help nations deal with the devastating impacts of land/soil degradation.
  • To strengthen land tenure for gender equality, involve women in land management, and raise $ 2.5 billion to help future-proof supply chains tackle deforestation and climate change, conserve soil to ensure food security, and protect biodiversity.
  • Dealing with sand and dust storms and other growing disaster risk issues; Building strong surveillance systems to track progress against land reclamation commitments and promoting appropriate land-based jobs for youth as part of land-based entrepreneurship are other decisions

                            India, for its part, has pledged to reclaim its 26 million hectares of eroded land by 2030 as part of its ongoing efforts to achieve its ‘Land Erosion Neutrality’ (LDN) target. LDN is a stage where the quantity and quality of land resources remain stable or increase between certain temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems, causing degradation and recovery. Simply put, if LDN is achieved through recovery efforts, no country will face a net loss in terms of land loss.


The latest UN survey noted that 40% of all ice-free land worldwide has deteriorated and the world has already experienced a 29% drought since 2000. It estimates that three-quarters of the world’s population will be affected by drought by 2050 unless urgent action is taken.

               The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994 to protect and restore our land and ensure a safer, just, and more sustainable future.  It is a legally binding framework set up to address desertification and the effects of drought. There are 197 Parties to the Convention, including 196 country Parties and the European Union– a multilateral commitment to mitigate the impact of land degradation and protect our land so we can provide food, water, shelter, and economic opportunity to all people. 


In India drought-prone districts account for 42 percent of the country’s cultivable lands. Rain-fed agriculture, particularly in these areas, plays an important role in India’s economy; with 68 percent of India’s net sown areas being rainfed. Rainfed crops account for 48 percent of the total area under food crops and 68 percent of the area under non-food crops, according to the National Rainfed Areas Authority. Nearly 50 percent of the rural workforce is concentrated in these areas. approximately 68 percent of cropped areas in  India  are drought-prone

In the early 1970s, the Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) and the Desert Development Programme (DDP) were implemented to revive the ecology in hot and cold deserts. rainwater harvesting – specifically the revival of traditional systems – has been given priority in drought management, particularly under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).

The National Watershed Development Programme for Rain-fed Areas (NWDPRA) and the Watershed Development Programme for Shifting Cultivation (WDPSC) is part of governments’ efforts to tackle the issue of Droughts.

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) assesses and defines the meteorological drought based on the rainfall deficiency at a particular geography or the location. A drought year as a whole is defined by the IMD as a year in which, the overall rainfall deficiency is more than 10% of the Long Period Average value(LPA) value and more than 20% of its area is affected by drought conditions,

According to the National Commission on Agriculture, the hydrological drought is the inadequate groundwater situation due to prolonged meteorological drought whereas the agricultural drought occurs when insufficient soil moisture leads to crop losses. 

Drought management is the  State government’s responsibility in  India.

Manual for Drought Management, 2016 which superseded the  2009  drought manual.  The new manual prescribes standardized,  more accurate,  transparent, and mandatory rules to declare the droughts within a reasonable time frame. 

The first criteria  (trigger  1)  is the rainfall measured by the percentage deviation in rainfall from average or the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) along with the dry spells.  The inadequate rainfall leads to the impact (Trigger 2) on the availability of water for crops,  soil, and at ground level reducing the crop sown area. Various scientific techniques such as remote sensing are employed to assess the impact on the crop situation, soil moisture, and groundwater level.

Linking rivers,  canals,  irrigation expansion, and watersheds developments are some of the examples of infrastructural measures that can be developed in the long duration to tackle Drought conditions in India.


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