Knowledge for Development

Drought and food security – Improving decision-support via new technologies and innovative collaboration


Date: 29/10/2014


The integration of three state-of-the-art technologies such that scientific findings and data are linked to actual user requirements including governments to achieve better decision-support for agricultural drought preparedness, has been proposed by Markus Enenkel, Vienna University of Technology, Austria and colleagues. Several promising approaches, ranging from the integration of satellite-derived soil moisture measurements that link atmospheric processes to anomalies on the land surface to improved long-range weather predictions and mobile applications are explored. Satellite-derived soil moisture measurements from space-based microwave sensors can help detect plant water deficiencies earlier than conventional products such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and forecasting models can provide seasonal predictions. These models must be calibrated to regional conditions, take into account weather uncertainties and 'hindsight' data, and be combined with crop health predictions. Mobile applications can link end users to drought-relevant information and also play a vital role in validating satellite-derived drought indicators and collecting socio-economic conditions. According to the authors, the added value of these technologies should create enough political will to ensure they find their way into the decision-support toolboxes of the end users.   

(Global Food Security, 10/09/2014)