Strengthening Data Availability Using GADAS to Assess Natural Disasters in Honduras
The importance of data availability for disaster monitoring
Data availability is one of the most sought-after pieces of information, especially during natural disasters and in times of food insecurity. Countries that have limited resources are prone to significant time-lags in data information, however their internal and external stakeholders need the data for situational awareness and decision-making. Shortening the amount of time between the disaster event and when sufficient information is available in the wake of the disaster is essential for decision support. Having access to data resources in a predefined location would ease the constraint of limited resources and provide an essential benchmark of potential impacts. The Global Agricultural & Disaster Assessment System (GADAS) is one platform ready to handle that.
The Global Agriculture & Disaster Assessment System
GADAS is a public-facing web geographic information system (GIS) built to help address these situational events by providing users a wealth of resources to utilize whenever needed. GADAS is built upon myriad resources and data streams and allows users quick and easy accessibility to information. Having partnered with the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) in Hawaii to incorporate real-time data, GADAS allows users to explore worldwide monitoring, tracking and pre- and post-disaster agricultural assessments resulting from hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, floods, droughts, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Additionally, GADAS has predefined tools that allow users to gauge the extent of potential damage.
Using GADAS to assess hurricane crop damages in Honduras
Recently, we have seen the utilization of GADAS' tools to assess the very active tropical season in 2020, notably in Central American countries. In this region, having viable information is key for situational awareness of impacts to agriculture. Honduras, most notably, was hard hit in early and mid-November, with Hurricane Eta followed by Hurricane Iota. The immense rainfall from these storms led to localized flooding and landslides. Overall, the combined impact of both storms was detrimental to infrastructure and agriculture.
To assess the aftermath of these storms, Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria (INFOAGRO), a Honduran government-based agency, utilized GADAS to analyze potential crop damage while on-the-ground reports were still developing. Due to data availability through GADAS, INFOAGRO was able to focus on where the potential for the hardest hit agricultural areas were by isolating where the heaviest rains were concentrated. Using predefined tools, such as the Agriculture Area Affected Tool, INFOAGRO was able to establish the extent of potential flood damage to crops such as maize and beans caused by the excessive rains. Additionally, GADAS was used to access satellite imagery, which provided INFOAGRO a visual reference of the flooding in croplands. One of the impacted areas that was assessed was in the El Progreso municipality, on the border of Cortés and Yoro departments, where significant flooding resulted in crop losses. INFOAGRO’s analysis was used to inform internal stakeholders of potential impacts to croplands in a time-efficient manner, showing success for INFOAGRO and for USDA’s geospatial training program.