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: http://www.fao.org/3/a-bd685e.pdf
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