Knowledge for Development

African Drought Monitor


Date: 01/05/2012


Monitoring drought globally is challenging because of the lack of dense in-situ hydrologic data in many regions. This is particularly problematic for developing regions such as Africa where water information is arguably most needed, but virtually nonexistent on the ground in many regions. A potential way forward is to use a modelling framework that couples available satellite remote sensing and in-situ information. This results in physically consistent and spatially and temporally continuous estimates of the water cycle and drought. A drought monitor based on this framework and an accompanying web-based user interface have been developed by Princeton University, in collaboration with UNESCO, for operational and research use over Africa. Based on macro scale hydrologic modelling, the system ingests available data to provide a real-time assessment of the water cycle and drought conditions, and puts this in the context of the long-term record back to 1950. The data is made available online for drought research and operational use to augment on-the-ground assessments of drought.