Using remote sensing tools and Google Earth for evaluation purposes by Serdar Bayryyev

I am Serdar Bayryyev, an evaluation officer at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and would like to share and interesting example of using modern remote sensing tools in evaluation work.

Hot Tip: Our recent evaluation of the large, multi-million dollar irrigation rehabilitation programme in Afghanistan has benefitted from the use of the tool that enables data collection through Google Earth. This new open-access tool was developed by US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and allows potential users to track land-use and landscape changes anywhere in the world with the help of satellite imagery. FAO’s Open Foris Collect Earth tool is web-based, free of charge, requires no downloads or installation, and allows users to assess relevant data on any location on the Earth with satellite data. It can be accessed by clicking on a link and registering on the platform.

Lesson Learned: While the main purpose of the new platform is to support countries to assess and monitor forest cover, and assist in gathering, producing and disseminating reliable information on the state of forest resources, our experience showed that it can also be potentially used for evaluation of development programmes.

In the course of the evaluation of the UN’s FAO Programme for Improvement of Irrigation Systems in Afghanistan, we faced serious limitations in accessing project sites due to security and other constraints (e.g. weather conditions). We have therefore opted for using the Collect Earth tool for remote assessment of the irrigation network expansion and of the intensity of agricultural activity in areas with newly restored irrigation. The tool allowed us to assess whether specific plots of irrigated lands have achieved double cropping, single cropping or had no cropping at all, based on the satellite images of the vegetative cover. This function enabled us to compare most recent data on the expansion of the irrigations canals and the vegetative cover along sections of the rehabilitated canals with the historical baselines. More details on this evaluation can be found in the following link:

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2 thoughts on “Using remote sensing tools and Google Earth for evaluation purposes by Serdar Bayryyev”

  1. Hello Mr. Bayryyev,

    I thought this was a really interesting approach to evaluating a large scale program in an inaccessible place. Giving people access to tools like this can allow them to continue to innovate and grow in new and unforeseen ways as well as allowing evaluators to more accurately understand their positions. I am curious to know what the results of the evaluation are at this point in time, is there somewhere I can access them? I see the 2017 results but I would like to see the longer term results as well. Will you be using this tool in the future for other evaluations on agricultural programs? Could it be used to corroborate information and support other findings that aren’t necessarily objective? Do you foresee widespread use of this technology in the future? It seems that depending on the user group it can be used for development, rehabilitation or even in warfare. While the original use of the tool was for forestry related data collection do you think it is being used that way predominately now or in different and innovative ways as you have done here?

  2. Annelise Carleton-Hug

    NASA offers free online training on how to access and utilize remote sensing data through their Applied Remote SEnsing Training (ARSET) program. The ARSET program offers satellite remote sensing training that builds the skills to integrate NASA Earth Science data into an agency’s decision-making activities. I have been involved with ARSET as program evaluator for seven years, and I can attest that the participant feedback indicates the program is very successful at improving skills and knowledge of remote sensing data. I encourage other evaluators to share the link below with anyone interested in learning how to effectively locate and access remote sensing data. The trainings are focused on helping resource professionals all over the world enhance their ability to make data-based decisions. All training materials are available (free) on the website, many with Spanish translations.

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