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Geospatial tech aiding anti-poverty motion

Paris, France: To meet the demographic challenges and to help the growing population with food security, European Space Agency (ESA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) collaborated to identify detailed geospatial information needed to support projects in Madagascar.

In the last 12 months, ESA has conducted three trials using state-of-the-art Earth observation services. These trials have provided invaluable information on rice acreage, inundation areas and land parcels, which assist IFAD to monitor better the impact of its projects.  

Strengthening food security
In famine-prone region of the Mandraré Basin, IFAD used ESA’s satellite images archive. Using historic data on land coverage changes between 1996 and 2010, IFAD determined current state of crop acreage and how land-cover had changed in the last 15 years.

“Since remote sensing has become a popular area of study and experts can be found all around the world, incorporating these data into our projects helps us to strengthen local capacity and transfer this knowledge to local stakeholders to improve national capacities,” said Benoit Thierry, IFAD’s Madagascar Country Programme Manager.

Improving development planning
To support development in the Menabe region, ESA provided land-cover maps and digital elevation models to IFAD. The maps were complemented by GIS information of slopes and drainage systems. The patterns formed by streams, rivers and lakes, were used to design the irrigation schemes. IFAD used these maps to single out areas with the potential for further agricultural activities, information was needed about the area’s slope and drainage system to identify areas prone to flooding.

Securing land rights
To simplify the exchange of land titles, the Malagasy Government needed a detailed image database that could enable the classification and delineation of land concessions and properties. Based on very high resolution satellite images, maps were produced by ESA for three districts in Haute Matsiatra. These images provide a good approximation of the location and size of specific land plots. It enabled IFAD to assist the government in providing small farmers with land ownership certificates.

Following these initial trials, IFAD and ESA are discussing how Earth observation data can support other development activities, including establishing country strategy plans, assessing food security, managing water and adapting to climate change.

Source: ESA