PUBLISHED: 06 November 2014

Social Impacts of Drought


Drought” by Kristóf Munkácsi is licenced under CC BY 2.0.
No changes were made to this photo.  

Drought becomes most apparent when it impacts our daily lives. The social impacts of drought are usually indirect, that is, they are a consequence of direct impacts of drought, such as low water levels in drinking water reservoirs and increased dust.

Drought can affect human health, result in conflicts and impact our quality of life.

Drought may possibly affect physical and mental human health. Increased dust levels could be detrimental to people with respiratory problems, and wildfires caused from the dryness may become a public safety issue. Farmers and those whose livelihoods are directly connected to land and water may have high stress levels or experience anxiety or depression.

Drought can also result in conflict. Demand for water will likely remain the same during a drought, but because of reduced supply, certain demands may not be met. For example, people may be asked to reduce their domestic water use, or to stop watering their lawns. When there are restrictions on a water supply, it is almost inevitable that there will be a conflict of some kind. Some people may feel that government or irrigation districts are not managing the water properly. Conflicts between water users may occur because some may feel that their needs are a lower priority.

Drought might also impact quality of life. For instance, the aesthetics of a community may change. Small bodies of water may dry up and plants might die. Drought can also affect recreation and there may be less recreation opportunities (e.g. water sports might be limited).