FAO to develop a database to support water-scarce countries

Satellite image of the water-scarce Sahara desert in Algeria (Image: ESA)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will develop an open-access database using satellite information to support water-scarce countries in the Near East and North Africa, where droughts and food security are major issues. The portal’s objective is to gather and assess satellite data in order to enhance land and water productivity, and to foster the sustainability of agricultural systems. Its development will presumably begin in October 2015.

This new four-year  project will be carried out at three spatial scales: the continental level over the whole of Africa and Near East, country and river basin level and, irrigation scheme level. Additionally, FAO will provide technical support in land monitoring and water productivity, identifying productivity gaps, suggesting solutions and contributing to a sustainable growth in agricultural production.

The project is funded by the Government of the Netherlands and FAO will be in charge of its implementation in conjunction with the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and other partners.

Jippe Hoogeveen, project coordinator and technical officer in FAO's Land and Water Division, argued that "Reporting on water productivity is lacking at country level in water scarce regions and this data will be key to creating sustainable agricultural systems in areas with scarce resources. Remote sensing satellite images offer governments near real-time information regarding the use of natural resources for food growth and production, making assessments and improvements to existing agricultural practices more efficient and cost effective."

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