An understanding of the socio-economic impact of drought and of farmers’ coping mechanisms is essential in designing technological and policy interventions for more effective drought mitigation and relief. Nevertheless, knowledge of drought is very limited in terms of its characteristics, its impact on farmer livelihoods, farmers’ coping strategies and the welfare implications in subhumid regions of Asia.
This paper synthesizes the major findings of a recent, cross-country comparative research study of the economic costs of drought in Asia and farmers’ coping mechanisms. The countries and regions included in the study were southern China, eastern India and north-eastern Thailand. These three regions capture a range of climatic conditions, levels of economic development, rice yields and institutional setups. Published secondary data and farm household survey data were used in the study. Over 30 years of time-series, published secondary data on rice and non-rice crop production and rainfall were used to characterize drought and to estimate economic losses due to drought at the aggregate level. Farm survey data were used to estimate the household-level impact of drought and to analyse farmers’ coping mechanisms. Various statistical and econometric methods were used to analyse the collected data.