Drought Constrains Economic Development

This module provides a roadmap to understanding the impact of drought on economic development, both domestically and globally.

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Resource List

These resources provide a baseline of understanding, but as the scientific research continues to evolve, new data will become available.


  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): The IPCC is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC draws on work from hundreds of scientists from all over the world to provide policymakers with regular assessments of climate change. Assessments produced by the IPCC provide information on climate change impacts, future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation. They are currently in their sixth assessment cycle (report to be finalized in 2022). The most recent Assessment Report at: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/. The IPCC can be found at: http://www.ipcc.ch/.
  • National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS): The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NIDIS program was started in 2006 with an interagency mandate to coordinate and integrate drought research, building upon existing federal, tribal, state, and local partnerships in support of creating a national drought early warning information system. A link to NIDIS reports at: https://www.drought.gov/drought/resources/reports. The NIDIS main page can be found at: https://www.drought.gov/drought/.

Recent Publications and Journal Articles:

  • Is Water Security Necessary? An Empirical Analysis of the Effects of Climate Hazards on National-Level Economic Growth: This journal article assesses on a global basis whether climate variability is an impediment to economic growth and a contributor to poverty levels in countries where exposure to variability is high.
  • Drought Under Global Warming: A Review: This journal article reviews recent literature on drought of the last millennium and provides an update on global aridity changes from 1950 to 2008. Projected future aridity is presented based on recent studies and analysis of model simulations.
  • Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action: This report from EPA’s ongoing Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis (CIRA) project estimates the impacts of climate change and how those impacts may be avoided or reduced in the future if GHG emissions are reduced.
  • Freshwater Resources: This chapter on freshwater resources from the IPCC 5th Assessment Report assesses hydrological changes due to climate change for seven ocean sub-regions and discusses the expected consequences and adaptation options for key ocean-based sectors.
    • Citation: Jiménez Cisneros, B.E., T. Oki, N.W. Arnell, G. Benito, J.G. Cogley, P. Döll, T. Jiang, and S.S. Mwakalila, 2014: Freshwater resources. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 229-269. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5Chap3_FINAL.pdf
  • Disasters and Development: Natural Disasters, Credit Constraints and Economic Growth: This working paper demonstrates, using a simple two-period equilibrium model of the economy, the potential effects of extreme event occurrences – such as natural or humanitarian disasters – on economic growth over the medium- to long-term. Their findings suggest that natural disasters do represent significant threats to economic development in poor countries.
    • Citation: McDermott, Thomas K. J.; Barry, Frank; Tol, Richard S. J. (2011) : Disasters and development: Natural disasters, credit constraints and economic growth, Working Paper, The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Dublin, No. 411. https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/100245/1/67091691.pdf
  • Economic Analysis of the 2016 California Drought on Agriculture: A report that summarizes estimated impacts of drought on California agriculture for 2016. The analysis used the SWAP model to estimate the changes in statewide cropping patterns, farm revenues, and production costs in response to the drought.
  • Managing Vulnerability to Drought and Enhancing Livelihood Resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa: Technological, Institutional and Policy Options: This journal article highlights the challenges of drought in Sub-Saharan Africa and reviews the current drought risk management strategies, especially the promising technological and policy options for managing drought risks to protect livelihoods and reduce vulnerability.
  • From Bad to Worse: Deepening Impacts of Zimbabwe’s Drought: This field report from Refugees International about the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe due to a 2-year drought concludes that severe drought, an economic crisis, and an extremely volatile political environment together signal that Zimbabwe may be headed toward a tipping point.

Other Resources:

  • Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES): C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and is widely recognized as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. Their mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. A key objective is a national market-based program to reduce emissions cost-effectively. They believe a sound climate strategy is essential to ensure a strong, sustainable economy.
  • National Drought Mitigation Center: The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) was established in 1995 and is based in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. NDMC helps people and institutions develop and implement measures to reduce societal vulnerability to drought, stressing preparedness and risk management rather than crisis management.
  • U.S. Drought Monitor: The U.S. Drought Monitor was established in 1999 through a partnership between the NDMC, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It provides a weekly map of drought conditions that is a composite index based on many factors.

These materials were developed as an initiative of the Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) curriculum at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

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