Droughts wipe out enough to feed millions of people: World Bank

ROME – Droughts wipe out enough produce to feed 81 million people every day for a year – equivalent to the population of Germany, the World Bank said.

Although it is floods that grab the headlines and trigger aid quickly, droughts have “shockingly large and often hidden” impacts that can last for generations, it said in a report.

The costs are both human and economic.

Girls in rural Africa born during a severe drought are more likely to grow up poor and hungry, be less educated, stunted, wed younger, give birth to underweight babies and bear more of them, the bank said.

“This is an example of a poverty trap that has been created by a single episode of drought … and it continues across generations – which is why it’s so important to nip it in the bud,” said Richard Damania, lead author of the report.

In a drought, farmers are also more likely to clear trees to grow more, the report said. Forests absorb and store carbon, and help regulate water supplies, so cutting them down exacerbates climate change and worsens water supplies, Damania said. read more