Welcome to Geospatial Technology and Analytics Month on Agrilinks
Welcome to the Geospatial Technology and Analytics Month on Agrilinks! This month, we celebrate the advances made in geospatial technology, data analytics and visualization techniques to improve the strategic planning, design, monitoring and evaluation of development activities/projects. Throughout the month of October, we will share a series of blogs and resources from USAID and partners to showcase new geospatial technologies and innovative approaches that help to make data-driven decisions and improve development outcomes.
The rapid growth of telecommunications technologies and the accessibility of handheld devices that use geographic information system (GIS) and global navigation satellite system (GNSS)/global positioning system (GPS) tools have allowed individuals in urban communities to make use of geospatial technologies to help them connect in ways that would have been unimaginable only decades ago. Users can now zoom in using touchscreens and check out street views of sites of interest thousands of miles away, anticipate the weather forecasts in their location and calculate pretty accurately how long their commute will be next morning … even while considering potential traffic.
However, reaching the communities that USAID and other development partners aim to serve remains a complex task, especially in situations of fragility, violence and conflict. When external shocks, such as the effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, hit these rural communities, the challenges of locally accessing, using and providing data for decision-making are exacerbated, making data collection efforts by the development community more complicated. It is, therefore, crucial for development organizations to invest not only in the technologies that allow us to see these geographical dark spots, but also in improving the local capacity to use them in the countries where we work.
A geographical approach to development can prove beneficial to the way we operate. Given the constraints faced by international development partners working with countries and communities (financial capital, human capital, missing markets and over-exploitation of environmental capital), it is important to be able to determine how and where assistance is most likely to achieve our goals of driving sustainable agriculture-led growth, strengthening resilience among people, communities, countries and systems, and creating well-nourished populations, especially among women and children. With the right geospatial technologies and innovative approaches to use these tools, we can better identify priority areas and focus the implementation of our activities/projects in those places.
USAID uses the expertise of its GeoCenter to provide direct program support to Agency staff around the world and to analyze poverty, demographics trends, health conditions, household shocks, education levels, natural resources and budget information metrics to make tailored solutions to the development challenges facing the communities we serve globally. The USAID GeoCenter also works hard to create a data-driven culture at USAID by designing training courses and establishing the standards for collecting and analyzing activity data. Lastly, the team of geographers and analysts at the GeoCenter shares their expertise with university students around the world through their YouthMappers program, which aims to “cultivate a generation of young leaders to create resilient communities and to define their world by mapping it.”
USAID’s Bureau for Resilience, Environment and Food Security (REFS) uses geographic approaches to inform decision-making processes and tackle important challenges across a wide-ranging portfolio that includes resilience; environment; food security; nutrition; water security, sanitation and hygiene; climate; infrastructure; and energy issues.
Through the SERVIR partnership, REFS integrates NASA’s satellite data with USAID’s development expertise to serve more than 50 countries around the world and support their locally led efforts to strengthen their climate resilience, food and water security, forest and carbon management, and air quality. Through the Zone of Influence Creation Support Tool (ZeaCreST), REFS helps USAID country teams establish areas to focus and concentrate resources of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger initiative, to achieve long-term, sustainable impact in reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
Join us on October 26 for a webinar where our colleagues from the World Bank’s Geo-Enabling Initiative for Monitoring and Supervision (GEMS), USAID and implementing partners will showcase best practices to monitor and evaluate the progress of their investments, determining the zones of influence where Feed the Future projects will be implemented and the ongoing local capacity-building efforts for the collection and usage of datasets in response to situations of fragility, conflict and violence; COVID-19; and other crises.
Please bookmark this post and follow @Agrilinks and @FeedtheFuture on X (formerly Twitter) to see the latest. If you would like to submit a post or resource to Agrilinks or share what you or your organization is doing with geospatial technology and analysis, please reach out to [email protected].