Factors contributing to vulnerability to droughts are the following:
i. Monsoon rains are deficient,
ii. Non-irrigated agricultural lands,
iii. Source of water for irrigation dries up,
iv. Low moisture retention in soil,
v. Deficiency of moisture at critical stage of crop growth,
vi. Farmers can’t adapt to drought or do not get alternative seeds, and
vii. Lack of alternate sources of income for those rendered jobless due to drought.
Vulnerability, from economic angle reduces the demand within the economy generally, increases defaults on loans in rural sector and reduce government revenues. Drought affects national budget as it costs heavily to government for organizing relief measures.
Droughts result in reduced income of farmers and agricultural laborers, reduced spending locally on agricultural inputs and equipment and non-agricultural items and services like price of livestock as farmers are forced to sell because of increases in the cost of fodder and agricultural inputs.
Inability of more vulnerable sections within the population to afford increased food prices results in the following:
i. Switch to cheaper and sometimes less preferred food.
ii. Reduction in overall food intake leading to malnutrition and starvation.
iii. Borrowing to maintain food intake.
iv. Poor hygiene, disease.
v. Selling assets to raise funds.
vi. Engaging in alternative income earning activities locally.
vii. Migrating in search of employment opportunities.
viii. Migration to where relief food is being distributed.
Drying-up of water sources leads to reduction in water quality, the need to travel further to collect water and possibly migration to better water sources. Increase in competition for access to dwindling water sources may lead to increase in incidences of local disputes/conflict.
Drought also leads to substantial reduction in industrial production especially in the industries requiring considerable amount of water such as plastic, paper, textile and petroleum industries. Lack of hydroelectric power generation and poor health of workers affect industrial production and increase the economic vulnerability.
Education is another sector vulnerable to drought. It leads to loss of education, due to fall in school attendances by children lacking energy and/or money for fees, plus the need for them to assist other family members in water collection and income generating activities. Social costs of migration are also very heavy on account of break-up of communities and families.