Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Improving famine early warning systems

Belle Dumé in Environmental Research Web: Researchers in the US are aiming to improve the Famine Early Warning System Network by asking specialists around the world to evaluate their needs for remote sensing satellite data. The improved network could help decision-makers responsible for responding to famine and food insecurity in regions such as Africa and South America.

The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) was created in 1985 by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to help improve how emergency services react when faced with food-shortage crises in Africa. The goal is to disseminate information in a timely and effective manner so that residents can prepare themselves for a crisis in advance. FEWS NET transforms data from satellite remote sensing into rainfall and vegetation information that can be used by decision-makers.

To help improve the current system, Lauren Underwood of Science Systems and Applications, US, and colleagues at NASA and the US Geological Survey sent an online review questionnaire to 40 experts around the world. The questionnaire focused on how to improve the type of data obtained for FEWS. According to Underwood, the results are important because peer-reviewed literature on FEWS NET is limited, as are papers that describe ways of determining what end-users of remote sensing data need.

"Because of their limited training in remote sensing, users have extensive needs but these are often difficult to articulate and quantify," she told environmentalresearchweb. "We present a general understanding of this important application of remote sensing technology."

The results show that rainfall data is an important famine early warning system component. The majority of reviewers also feel that data on crop yield estimates, vegetation, soil moisture and flooding are crucial too. However, less than half of the reviewers think of temperature, land cover and humidity data as vital for early warning analyses….

Famine stele at Sehel Island in Egypt, containing an account of a seven-year famine, shot by Markh

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Little but Interesting Article!
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