Losses and damages associated with slow-onset events: urban drought and water insecurity in Asia

Elsevier, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 50, June 2021
Singh C., Jain G., Sukhwani V., Shaw R.

Loss and Damage studies have tended to focus on rapid-onset events with lesser attention to slow-onset events such as drought. Even when discussed, narratives around droughts emphasize implications on rural populations and there remain empirical and conceptual gaps on drought impacts in urban areas. We focus on losses and damages associated with urban drought and water insecurity through a review of interventions and policies in seven Asian countries. We find evidence of urban droughts leading to tangible losses (e.g. groundwater over-extraction, economic impacts) and intangible losses (e.g. conflict, increased drudgery). We highlight examples of Asian cities minimizing urban drought-related losses and damages through nature-based, institutional, technological, and behavioral adaptation interventions. We argue that water management policies that take into account current and projected L&D of urban droughts as well as beyond-urban dynamics of water availability and sharing are essential for effective climate adaptation.