A study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology at Indore and Guwahati has concluded that three out of every five districts in India are not prepared for drought. The study was conducted by the department of civil engineering of the institutes and was published in the Journal of Hydrology on July 31.

It took into account the daily rainfall records from 6,955 rain gauge stations across India from 1901-2015 by the India Meteorological Department. Using data based on remote sensing from the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer sensor, the study prepared a high resolution ecosystem resilience map of the country from 2000 to 2014. It concluded that only 241 of the 634 districts, or 38%, were resilient to droughts, and of the 30 states and union territories, only 10 showed more than 50% resilience.

A resilient ecosystem is able to absorb hydro-climatic disturbances such as drought by increasing or keeping constant its efficiency to use water that helps in sustaining productivity. In India, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh had no resilient district while all four districts of Sikkim were found capable of withstanding drought.

The study observed that forest-dominated districts were more resilient compared to others. It found that more than 50% of districts with large forest cover of more than 40% were resilient, while 65% districts with less than 20% forest cover were non-resilient.

Most districts in the forest-dominated areas in the north and northeast were either resilient or slightly non-resilient, while the dry regions in the west and parts of the east are non-resilient. Among northeastern states, Assam at 20.72% had the lowest percentage of resilient area.

States in the lower Himalayan regions had higher resilient areas such as Sikkim (100%), Punjab (88.11%), Haryana (76.02%), Uttarakhand (75.26%), Himachal Pradesh (73.19%), and Arunachal Pradesh (64.04%). Among the southern states, Tamil Nadu (56.74%) was the most resilient, followed by Andhra Pradesh (53.43%) and Telangana (48.61%). Kerala at 19.13% had the lowest percentage of resilient area.

“Terrestrial ecosystems play a very important role in supporting human life on earth. The productivity of an ecosystem is linked to crop production and food security,” Manish Kumar Goyal, lead investigator and associate professor of civil engineering at IIT-I, told the Hindustan Times. “If the ecosystem is unable to maintain its productivity during drought, it may lead to a serious threat to food security.”