Drought on a planet of water

The annual amount of fresh water per person has decreased more than 20% during the last 20 years

The United Nations this year emphasized the urgency to act on global water scarcity and how this complex issue is directly related to climate change. There are a number of questions around these issues ... What is really happening with planet earth? Are we experiencing droughts today? Although we know that 72% of the planet's surface is water, only 3% of that water is for human consumption and two thirds of fresh water is found in glaciers, which leaves us with a limited amount of this precious resource.

“The annual amount of fresh water per person has decreased more than 20% during the last 20 years” (FAO, 2020)Since ancient times the human population, has had the ability to adapt to the climate depending on its settlement, including in places with scarcity of water or nonexistence of it, in other circumstances they tend to migrate to places with the presence of water. Many inhabitants settled in places with nearby rivers or water sources, while others adapt to extreme climates and conditions with scarcity of this resource. The problem today is not only a climatic phenomenon, or if it is, this problem is intensified by anthropogenic factors.

We have scarcity, in a world with 7,700 million people, this pressure will grow according to the population and will be aggravated by the inequality related to the amount of natural resources that each territory has.

It is something to worry about, since resources are increasingly limited, a clear example is the shortage of fresh water, which essentially affects life, destroying the basic pillars of food, causing more problems in social and political construction, both internally as globally.

According to the annual report of The State of Food and Agriculture (FAO, 2016):

"More than three billion people live in agricultural areas with a shortage of water and almost half of them, 1.2 billion, face serious limitations in this regard"


Drought in Mexico?

According to a report by the National Water Commission (CONAGUA, 2021), 1,295 municipalities in Mexico suffer from moderate to severe drought, while 488 municipalities have abnormally dry drought indices, it is clear that the main premise is scarcity, which that will lead us to more severe droughts in the coming years. It is noted in this document that 83.9% of the Mexican territory is affected by this climatic phenomenon.

-The states in most danger due to extreme drought, with a greater rainfall deficit, are those in the north of the country, determining their percentage of territorial extension (CONAGUA):

-Zacatecas 8.8%, 

-Guanajuato 18.3%, -

Michoacán 18%, -

Durango 34.6% , -

Sinaloa 18.1%, -

Sonora 41.3%, 

-Chihuahua 1.8%, 

-Guerrero 7.0% 

-Estado de México 3.1%

-The states in danger of suffering extreme droughts as a result of severe droughts determining their percentage of territorial extension are:

-78.8% Querétaro 

-81.8% Sinaloa

-82.3% Colima

-38% Sonora

-6.3%  B.C. Sur


-19.3% Coahuila

-48.1% Nuevo León

-21.4% Tamaulipas

-63.1 Durango

-62.7 Zacatecas

-53.6 San luis P

-54.3% Jalisco

22.8% aguascalientes

-45.5% Guanajuato

-47.3% Hidalgo

-3.0 Veracruz

-39.7 % Edo. de México

-2.0 Oaxaca

Conagua reports that drought and water shortages have spread in the last two years. Agriculture has been the sector most affected by this problem, spreading to different crops throughout the country, forcing its inhabitants to leave their lands in search of a better quality of life.

According to data from the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC, 2014), it has been recognized that climate change has accelerated in the second part of the last century, being directly related to human factors, which bring with them greater desertification and a more climate variable. It is interesting to know the type of droughts and to talk about one of the most recent concepts in the scientific field: 

-Meteorological drought: There is a continued shortage of rainfall. It gives rise to the other types of drought and usually affects large areas. It is related to the global ocean-atmosphere behavior, deforestation, greenhouse gases.

-Hydrological drought: Decreased availability of surface and groundwater, which can prevent meeting water demands

-Agricultural drought: It can be defined as a moisture deficit in the root zone1

-Socio-economic drought: it is enough with an economic sector that is affected by water scarcity with unfavorable economic consequences.

It should be noted that the scarcity of water not only reflects its insufficiency, it unleashes a series of problems that are essential for life: crop production and livestock production, food supply, among other activities.

Outlook for the future

 In the last 100 years, the global demand for water has increased by 600%, therefore, in the coming decades, the water demand will increase significantly in the most important components (Unies, 2018):

-The Agriculture

-The industry

-The domestic

In developing countries, 74% of the rural population does not have access to drinking water, leading to a series of social problems, forced migration, gender violence, diseases and malnutrition (FAO, 2020).

We cannot afford to wait for this crisis to resolve itself or have to live it in order to create a change. The demand for water by 2050 will continue to grow even more than the population, having a close relationship with the reduction of water quality. Many of the goals and challenges of the 2030 agenda are related to the SDGs2. On this earth day we can become aware that our actions affect others, that we are all connected and as humanity we must work together to achieve positive change.

Art by Héctor Mendoza @elpajaro

1 Soil layer containing plant roots.

2 Sustainable Development Goals: The UN approved the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable development in 2015. It has 17 Sustainable Development goals, including elimination of poverty, education, equality, defense of the environment and sustainable urban development.


  • CONAGUA. (2021). Sequía.Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales.
  •  FAO. 2016. El estado mundial de la agricultura y la alimentación 2016. Cambio climático, agricultura y seguridad alimentaria. Roma. 190 páginas. (Disponible también en www.fao.org/3/a-i6030s.pdf).
  • FAO. (2020). Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Aalimentación y la Agricultura.Obtenido de fao.org:http://www.fao.org/3/cb1447es/online/cb1447es.html#chapter-1_1
  • IPCC (2014). Cambio climático 2014: Informe de síntesis. Contribución de los Grupos de trabajo I, II y III al Quinto Informe de Evaluación del Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climático. Equipo principal de redacción: Pachauri, R. K., & Meyer L.A. (eds.). Ginebra: Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climático, IPCC.
  • Tipos de sequía(2021) Glosario. La Paz: Ministerio  de Desarrollo Rural y tierras. Recuperado el 20 de abril de 2021, de http://www.sat.agro.bo/sites/default/files/uploadfiles/doc_publicaciones/glosariodeterminos.pdf
  • Wada, Y. et al. Modelling global water use for the 21st century: The Water Futures and Solutions (WFaS) initiative and its approaches. Geosci. Model Dev.9, 175–222 (2016)
  •  World Water Assessment Programme (Nations Unies), The United Nations World Water Development Report 2018(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, New York, United States) www.unwater.org/publications/world-water-development-report-2018/. (2018).

Latest stories

Business going carbon neutral

The question is no longer why should we commit? Nor why should we care? The conversation changes, and now we can begin to say we all agree to take on the path towards decarbonization.

Fighting the climate crisis with the help of emerging technologies

This article presents 3 technological pillars that will help us fight the climate crisis by improving the carbon market.