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A drought is a period of low or no rain fall or a deficiency in other water sources that leads to insufficient water supply for the needs of a given area. A drought can happen almost anywhere, but some places experience them more often than others.



Understanding Droughts

Droughts may be caused by natural climate change (e.g. El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the Pacific) or by man-made factors (e.g. deforestation in Haiti). In rural areas droughts are especially damaging while in urban areas droughts barely make an impact on daily life.

Preparing for a Drought

Preparing for a drought is similar to most other disasters; store food and water with emphasis on water, but also reduce your need for water for non-essential purposes such as watering lawns and washing cars. Using a car wash with recycled water will assist in the latter point. Alternative gardening practices such as use of a hot house, drip watering system or other measures can save water as well.


Food should always be stored, and a drought is no exception. Droughts often cause food shortages in undeveloped countries or even in developed countries if the drought covers a large enough agricultural area even if you are not directly affected by the drought. Fortunately most developed countries are able to support an area suffering from drought with sufficient food supplements for the duration of the emergency. However this comes at a price to the consumer so store food during times when food is plentiful (and cheaper) for use during droughts.

Water Reserves

Water should always be stored, but for a drought sufficient water storage is critical. If you live in an area that is particularly subject to drought you should store far more water than you would in an area less subject to drought. Even if you live over an aquifer and you have a well consider storing water in a pond for your livestock and in tank or cistern for yourself. Water tables drop during a prolonged drought or when they are tapped by communities as alternatives to low reservoirs. If you live in an urban setting store water in appropriate tanks since zoning laws will likely prohibit building a cistern or drilling your own well.

Water Usage Reduction

Reducing your need of water is extremely important in preparing for a drought. It is easy to take for granted the enormous amount of water that we use throughout the day, water is used for consumption, food preparation, sanitation, and gardening. The need for water consumption cannot be reduced, but the amount used for food can be. You should avoid storing foods that require you to boil water and then discard the water after use. Sanitation is one of the easiest areas to reduce water consumption, showers, toilet flushes, baths, and brushing your teeth all consume water. Replacing your shower head with a low-flow unit, using low volume toilet(or you can put some bricks in a regular toilet tank), and never leave the water running while you brush your teeth. Gardening uses a lot of water, especially when rain isn't falling. If you live where droughts are common, then you should stick to plants with low water requirements.

Living during a Drought

Living during a drought is mostly about conserving water and implementing your previous preparations. You should shorten your showers, and take sponge baths when possible. Stop preparing food that waste water during preparation, and use any left over cooking water in your garden or for pets and livestock.

Drought Aftermath

Most areas will recover from a drought within one harvest rotation, but often the wild plant and wild life can be devasated. Many older shut-ins or unprepared individuals may not survive if the drought is severe enough.

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