Vital Signs in Collaboration with the European Space Agency Consortium

  • September 25, 2019
  • Posted by: ajamah

By Monica Noon

Scientists from the Moore Center for Science and the Vital Signs program at Conservation International are collaborating with the Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) consortium to develop capacity of organizations involved in the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded Integrated Approach Pilot for Food Security (IAP-FS) in sub-Saharan Africa.

The European Space Agency's EO4SD - Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster integrates earth observation (EO), technical proficiency and a wide experience in developing geospatial operation services in the agriculture and rural domain: eLEAF (lead), Satelligence, Nelen & Schuurmans (all from the Netherlands), DHI GRAS (Denmark), GeoVille (Austria), University of Twente - ITC (The Netherlands), and SpaceTec Partners (Belgium).

Together, the collaboration increases access to technical and practical expertise in the region; these organizations developed guidance that allows both local technical experts and decision-makers to understand the utility, benefits, and potential constraints of using EO information services in IAP- FS operations.

In Bolgatanga, Ghana in March 2019, this collaboration manifested in a training clinic with interactive sessions on remote sensing best practices and verification/validation of available datasets. These sessions, led by EO4SD and CI, were organized according to the project cycles: design, operation and impact, allowing participants to test verification of remotely-sensed land cover products for their countries and project areas, while observing practical examples from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Niger and Uganda.

Tesfaye Haile (UNDP) gave an overview on how EO aided him in his project work and presented the EO-based monitoring system currently under implementation in Ethiopia. Nearly all country representatives indicated recognition of the value of EO for setting baselines and evaluating at the mid- and end-term evaluations, if the method is more efficient (e.g. quicker and cheaper) than traditional approaches.

CI's Remote Sensing Analyst, Tom Kiptenai-Kemboi presented the draft maps for national level land cover data for each country to review and provide feedback based on their knowledge of the project area and Monica Noon, Senior Manager, Data Science for Resilience from Conservation International, discussed methods for assessing ecosystem services, resilience of food security, and socioeconomic benefits of projects using EO and social surveys.

The overall impact of the training clinics encourages the integration of EO into the monitoring and assessment of resilient food security systems while enabling monitoring at different scales. Each country can derive insights into how to increase food security in a specified project area, and how these insights can be evaluated at different scales, from the project site to the national-, regional- and continental-levels. Earth observation datasets and socio-economic surveys compiled or created by CI and the EO4SD consortium are available at the IAP-FS Atlas:

Monica Noon is the Senior Manager, Data Science for Resilience, providing cartographic and GIS support to Vital Signs. Email:

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