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Food ruined by drought could feed more than 80m a day, says World Bank

The food produce destroyed by droughts would be enough to feed a country with a population the size of Germany’s every day for a year, the World Bank has reported.

In a new study, it said, the “shockingly large and often hidden” consequences of prolonged periods without rain threatened to stunt the growth of children and condemn them to a lifetime of poverty.

The report said the lost food production related to drought would feed more than 80 million people every day for a year, adding that while floods and storm surges had an immediate impact, droughts were “misery in slow motion”.

The World Bank said women that were born in droughts bore the marks for their entire lives, growing up mentally and physically stunted, undernourished and unwell.

New data shows that women born during droughts had less access to education, had more children and were more likely to suffer from domestic violence. Problems caused by droughts were passed on to the next generation, leading to a vicious cycle of poverty.

Droughts reduce crop yields, forcing farmers to expand into nearby forests, the Bank said, adding: “Since forests act as a climate stabiliser and help regulate water supplies, deforestation decreases water supply and exacerbates climate change.” For firms, the economic cost of a drought was four times as big as a flood, it said.

Guangzhe Chen, senior director of the World Bank’s water global practice, said: “These impacts demonstrate why it is increasingly important that we treat water like the valuable, exhaustible, and degradable resource that it is. We need to better understand the impacts of water scarcity, which will become more severe due to growing populations and a changing climate.”

The World Bank said that many of the countries affected by drought overlapped with areas already facing large food deficits and that were classified as fragile, heightening the need to tackle the problem. Source: The Guardian Read more 

Read Uncharted Waters: The New Economics of Water Scarcity and Variability presenting new evidence on how increasingly erratic rainfall impacts farms, firms and families.