Review of Meteorological Drought in Africa: Historical Trends, Impacts, Mitigation Measures, and Prospects

Pure Appl Geophys. 2022;179(4):1365-1386. doi: 10.1007/s00024-022-02988-z. Epub 2022 Mar 14.


This review study examines the state of meteorological drought over Africa, focusing on historical trends, impacts, mitigation strategies, and future prospects. Relevant meteorological drought-related articles were systematically sourced from credible bibliographic databases covering African subregions in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (i.e. from 1950 to 2021), using suitable keywords. Past studies show evidence of the occurrence of extreme drought events across the continent. The underlying mechanisms are mostly attributed to complex interactions of dynamical and thermodynamical mechanisms. The resultant impact is evidenced in the decline of agricultural activities and water resources and the environmental degradation across all subregions. Projected changes show recovery from drought events in the west/east African domain, while the south and north regions indicate a tendency for increasing drought characteristics. The apparent intricate link between the continent's development and climate variability, including the reoccurrence of drought events, calls for paradigm shifts in policy direction. Key resources meant for the infrastructural and technological growth of the economy are being diverted to develop coping mechanisms to adapt to climate change effects, which are changing. Efficient service delivery to drought-prone hotspots, strengthening of drought monitoring, forecasting, early warning, and response systems, and improved research on the combined effects of anthropogenic activities and changes in climate systems are valuable to practitioners, researchers, and policymakers regarding drought management in Africa today and in the future.

Keywords: Africa; Drought; agriculture; economy; environment; health; rainfall.