Land & Water

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, 17 June 2022 "Rising up from drought together"

Drought is a global and urgent issue

Drought is one of the most destructive natural disasters in terms of the loss of life, arising from impacts, such as wide scale crop failure, wildfires and water stress. Exacerbated by land degradation and climate change, droughts are increasing in frequency and severity, up 29% since 2000, with 55 million people affected every year. By 2050, droughts may affect an estimated three-quarter of the world’s population.

Drought and food security

Over 95% of food is produced on land and begins with soils and water, but pressures on land and water resources such as droughts are pushing ecosystems to their productive limit, compromising agricultural production and intensifying poverty and malnutrition in all regions of the world. 

Severe drought incidences are becoming more frequent and are affecting food security, especially in the dry areas and in countries with reduced capacity to absorb shocks. The number of food insecure people in drought-sensitive countries has increased by 45.6 percent since 2012 and hunger is on the rise, particularly in drought-prone areas.

Drought and Sand and Dust Storms

The frequency and intensity of Sand and Dust Storms (SDS), especially in arid and semi-arid regions, have increased over recent decades due to land use, land cover changes and climatic factors, with many regions projected to experience increasing aridity and drought frequency and intensity due to climate change. SDS have major transboundary impacts on all aspects of society, including the environment, climate, health, livelihoods, agriculture, food security and socio-economic well-being, affecting disproportionately those with least capacity to cope with.

Evidence-based understanding of SDS and their impacts are needed in order to develop tailored, high-impact strategies and interventions to enhance the resilience and support the formulation of national, regional and interregional plans to mitigate sand and dust storm hazards.

Drought and land degradation

Land degradation and desertification are increasing with alarming impacts on the food security and livelihoods of millions of people as they disrupt vital ecosystem functions, negatively affect biodiversity, water and soil resources, and increase carbon emissions and vulnerability to climate change.  Estimates indicate that human induced land degradation affects at least 1.6 billion hectares worldwide, directly affecting 3.2 billion people.

Drought and land tenure

Land tenure security is necessary to encourage people to invest in their land and manage it sustainably to fight desertification, land degradation and drought, and is crucial to achieve land degradation neutrality, as well as ecosystem restoration.

Investing in sustainable land and water management is a proactive way to reduce and transform drought risks and impacts, and costs less than relief responses to disaster impacts.


Supporting countries to increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises and reduce the impacts on vulnerable communities is at the heart of FAO’s mandate. FAO works with countries and partners to build capacities, develop tools and to promote the development and implementation of drought policies and strategies.

Together we need to urgently move from reactive to proactive approaches in drought management, to increase drought risk preparedness, strengthen adaptation capacity and move away from emergency actions.