Ten Deadliest Droughts
By Paul Homewood
Since 1988 the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) has been maintaining an Emergency Events Database EM-DAT. EM-DAT was created with the initial support of the WHO and the Belgian Government.
Their database offers a history of disasters of all types back to 1900.
One chart they produce shows the ten biggest drought disasters, in terms of the number of deaths.
We are constantly told that climate change is making droughts worse. Yet the most recent event is 1983, and the deadliest droughts were in the first half of the 20thC.
It is, of course, difficult to compare a drought in 1928 with one today.Humanitarian efforts, for instance, certainly save a lot of lives these days, that may not have been saved in earlier years. On the other hand though, populations were much smaller in those days, and the lack of proper disaster management systems may well have led to many deaths not being recorded.
Nevertheless, the list is a timely reminder that droughts and other climatological disasters have always been with us, and always will be.