Sri Lanka: IWMI’s space-based drought system wins award

Source(s): Geospatial World
neenawat khenyothaa/Shutterstock
neenawat khenyothaa/Shutterstock

IWMI has won an award for its innovative work using remote sensing technology to help nations monitor and mitigate the impacts of drought. The Institute received the Geospatial World Excellence Award 2020. For the first time, a CGIAR center has won this accolade, in recognition of the positive impact its South Asia Drought Monitoring System (SADMS) has had. Since IWMI launched SADMS in 2014, the system has guided national, state and district-level authorities in India and Sri Lanka to take timely action to prepare for drought. This has helped to cushion smallholders, many of them poor, from the worst effects of prolonged dry spells.

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The monitoring and forecasting component of SADMS is based on indices including vegetation health, rainfall levels and soil moisture. This information facilitates the production of weekly drought severity maps for South Asia. The maps, which have a validated accuracy of 78-82%, help to inform stakeholders, including farmers, of forthcoming drought risk. The vulnerability and impact assessment component of SADMS, meanwhile, helps authorities to assess risks and vulnerability before droughts occur. Understanding the capacity of regions and communities to cope facilitates the design of targeted policies and programs. These feed into the mitigation and response component of SADMS, which is enacted when a drought is evolving.

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Transferable technology

IWMI is now working with the World Bank to develop drought early-warning programs elsewhere. In Afghanistan, for example, it is helping to design a system for a drought response and declaration process. And the Institute is collaborating with the Word Bank and other partners on the Next Generation Drought Index Project. Focusing initially on  Senegal and Mozambique, the project is developing a framework of drought-monitoring indices, so that financial responses can be quickly triggered if particular drought conditions arise.

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