The West African Sahel consistently faces climate shocks. However, early predictions of drought can allow sufficient time for pastoral herders to prepare and implement adequate responses. In 2018-2019, the Data Innovation Fund supported the scale-up of a Pastoral Early Warning System (PEWS), developed by Action contre la Faim (ACF), which began to regularly track drought in West Africa in 2010 using satellite images and geospatial technologies and later added data collected from sentinel sites on the ground.
The current PEWS incorporates two sets of data that are complementary. The first is near-real-time data collected from the field as SMS/Phone surveys about livestock conditions on 107 “sentinel sites” in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal. The second is satellite images used to generate biomass and surface water productions and accessibility. The outputs of this pastoral drought monitoring system are interactive maps, graphs and time series that are available on the GeoSahel website designed for their visualization and queries. In addition, bi-monthly reports and alerts are published on the SigSahel website. These bulletins or reports are also distributed through a mailing list to key stakeholders in these countries, as well as to regional and international humanitarian organizations.
This project addressed the following SDGs: SDG 1 - No poverty, SDG 2 - Zero hunger, SDG 3 - Good health & well-being, SDG 8 - Economic growth, and SDG 15 - Life on land. The scaleup of the project had two principal aims :
Expansion of field data, and
Improvement of satellite data outputs by automating data treatment, publishing the code-base and making raw data accessible to all.
Both goals were achieved. First, the number of sentinel sites increased from 50 to 107 in 4 countries (Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Burkina Faso). This considerably improved the monitoring coverage over the Sahelian region and the accuracy of the data. ACF published 36 bi-monthly national bulletins on the pastoral situation (9 bulletins x 4 countries). The satellite data outputs also improved with the whole imagery treatment being automatic, the codebase published on GitHub, and all data (both satellite-derived products and field data) are freely accessible from the web platform where bulletins and reports continue to be published.
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