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Microeconomics - Essay Example

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Nature’s fury is an insurmountable curse to mankind, and water has been a predominant element in most of the natural calamities that wreaked havoc on mankind. Drought, a recurring feature of environmental change, has always tested human ability to endure catastrophes. It is a…
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Drought and Water Shortage Nature’s fury is an insurmountable curse to mankind, and water has been a predominant element in most of the natural calamities that wreaked havoc on mankind. Drought, a recurring feature of environmental change, has always tested human ability to endure catastrophes. It is a randomly occurring climatic phenomenon. Drought can be defined as “an interval during which the actual moisture supply at a given place consistently is less than the climatically expected or climatically appropriate moisture supply.” (Palmer, 1965, p. 3). The question, whether draught causes water shortage, is a ticklish one because of their inter-relationship; like the ‘hen or egg first?’ issue. It is well known that when there is a draught there will be water shortage, and when there is water shortage there will be spells of draught.
The effects of draught can be linked with meteorological, hydrological, or agricultural aspects and it is a major influence on the social and economic activities of a given region. The role of water in natural calamities is paramount. Heavy downpours cause flood, and scarcity of rain lead to drought. Continued spells of draught results in shortage of water in the region. These two phenomena are beyond human control and their aftermaths have long lasting effects on the economy of a nation. Drought can be attributed to proximity to equator, geographic position, and the lack of greenbelt in a region. When a nation is dependent on agriculture for their economic growth, unexpected seasonal changes hamper their future prospects. During drought there is scarcity of water and continuous heat wave, which damages crop and livestock. Deforestation and reduced greenbelt are also conducive to drought and desertification. Thus, shortage of water can be construed as the one of the major reasons for drought.
Water is the most abundant natural resource. Yet, the planet is running out of freshwater sources. The rapid increase in world population and recurrence of drought further aggravate the situation. It is estimated that by 2025 two-thirds of world’s population could live in countries with severe water shortage. (Icenhower, June 2006). Though drought is an imminent danger, people tend to consider it as a normal part of the climatic condition. With expanding deserts, deforestation, and growing droughts, compounded with increasing demand of freshwater for human consumption, everyone should be concerned about the potential worldwide calamity caused by diminishing water supply. Due to the random nature of its occurrence, drought is relegated to an insignificant status, and the world in general considers food shortage and emergency medicines supply as the pressing concerns to tackle starvation and spread of disease. Most of us do not recognize the need to recognize draught conditions as a priority, and take concrete measures to face future shortage of water. Water is the most basic need and when we don’t have enough supply of it we may not be able to fulfill many of our other requirements.
Drought is the single most natural hazard on mankind. Its effects are long lasting and devastating to the ecological system and environment because it results in short supply of water. It is a major cause of death worldwide and accounts for about half of the victims of natural disasters (WHO. 1999). Reduced supply of water for drinking and personal hygiene increases infectious diseases. There will be shortage of water and food supply, during drought-propelled heat waves, which contributes to malnutrition and high mortality. According to Eric Patrick the effects of drought are "insidious" due to their "creeping nature", and "Human mortality is simply the end state of this process.” (2005).
In countries predominantly dependent on agriculture, draughts can spell the doom of their economy. The collapse of the Mayan Civilization in Mexico is a classic example where an agrarian society has perished because of water scarcity caused by recurring spells of draught in the 9th and 10th centuries. Drought in a simple or intermediate economy can have a particularly significant impact on the economy, both directly and through knock-on effects. Most developing countries experience human fatalities from drought related disasters, and it has a correlation with GNP. (UN Humanitarian News). Developmental projects are adversely affected with the pressing need of keeping the people alive in the face of drought. Though there is concerted effort through science and organizations such as the United Nations, to solve the world’s water problem, the Bible reveals that “dark times are immediately ahead. As prophetic trends, caused by man’s disobedience to his Creator, worsen—as droughts and famines increase and spread—wars among nations will arise. On the heels of such wars will come more droughts and famines, of even greater intensity.” (Matt. 24:6-7; Rev. 6:4-6). Thus humans are still puppets in the hands of nature.
Eric Patrick. Drylands Development Center, UN Development Program (UNDP), 2005
Smith, Rosalind Stanwell. Water, Sanitation and Health unit, (WSH), World Health Organization
(WHO), Geneva.
Icenhower, Wayne.M. Earth’s Dwindling Water Supply, June 2006.
<> WHO/UNDP Report, 1999.
UN Humanitarian News. Africa: Economies worst placed to cope with knock-on effects of Drought. > accessed on 23 October 2006.
(Palmer, 1965). Hydrologic Events and Floods and Droughts: U.S. Geological Survey Water-
Supply Paper 2375, p. 147-156. Read More
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