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Geospatial tech determines famine condition

US: The US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists, in partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other federal agencies, developed Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) to assess environmental conditions. Now, the network has enabled agencies of the United Nations to declare parts of Somalia as a region in famine.

FEWS NET scientists used climate forecasts to develop forward-looking food security assessments based on expected agricultural outcomes for the season ahead. Since networks of ground observation stations are sparse in developing countries, FEWS NET has a tradition (since 1985) of reliance on satellite remote sensing of vegetation and rainfall.

“None of the many uses of Earth observing satellites is more vital — or has as much potential for prompting timely humanitarian intervention — as famine early warning,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Remote sensing from space allows USGS scientists to provide rapid, accurate assessments of a broad range of environmental and agricultural conditions.”

“The partnership between USAID and USGS through the Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a great example of two science-based agencies working together to help mitigate a humanitarian crisis that is also vital to peace and security,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “This partnership has facilitated an early response to the severe drought affecting millions in the Horn of Africa.”

FEWS NET partners include USAID, USGS, NASA, NOAA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Chemonics International who has been implementing field activities for FEWS NET since 2000.

The USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (USGS-EROS) Center provides scientific analysis based on remote sensing, environmental modeling and GIS technologies to support FEWS NET activities throughout the world.

Source: USGS