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West Africa: USAID commits US$16 million to address challenges in agric

USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested nearly US$16 million, in the second phase of its SERVIR West Africa programme, for the next five years to help countries in West Africa to use satellite imagery to solve agric challenges.

SERVIR West Africa 2, a satellite data-based programme, has been intended to help address development challenges in food security, water and hydro-climatic disasters, weather and climate. It will help expose land cover and land use change, provide ecosystem services in addition to a newly introduced financial service.

The joint initiative, between USAID and NASA including geospatial organizations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, connects space to the village by using satellite data to address critical development challenges which affect communities on the ground.

The USAID West Africa mission director, Jo Lesser-Oltheten, speaking at the launch of the second phase of the programme, noted the unique contributions of SERVIR to achieving development goals.

“Geospatial technology is essential for providing evidence to shape development progress, address climate change and deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance. The connection of cutting-edge technology to the village level by using satellite data to address critical development challenges that affect communities on the ground is the key,” she said.

SERVIR West Africa 2, according to Jo Lesser-Oltheten, offers solutions to a lot of 21st-century problems, while acknowledging its accessibility to local communities, governments and private organisations as well as civil society networks as a way of offering homegrown solutions.

She said being able to tell what is happening on the ground is crucial to making real-time decisions based on real-time data.

The lead of NASA Earth Science’s Applied Sciences programme, Lawrence Friedl, said the agency is excited about all the many innovations and achievements this new phase will achieve.

“Together with people and institutions in the region, SERVIR West Africa 2 will lead to bigger and better ways geospatial and earth science information benefits the region, building on the successes of the first phase,” he noted.

The director general at ICRISAT, the implementing partner, Dr Jacqueline Hughes, applauded USAID, NASA and regional partners for launching SERVIR West Africa 2 and the commitment it represents to the governments and people of the region.

“Through geospatial technology, we will continue to generate critical knowledge that informs good governance and public policy for better nutrition, food security, climate resilience and a host of other outcomes that we collectively seek for dryland communities in West Africa and beyond,” Dr Jacqueline, said.

The first phase of SERVIR WA was launched in 2016, while the second phase which runs from 2022 to 2027, has been launched at the back of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Week, held in Accra.

This second phase will be implemented in collaboration with several West African institutions as well as universities and international organisations including the Regional Center for Agrometeorology, Hydrology and Meteorology, the African Regional Institute for Geospatial Information Science and Technology, the Centre de Suivi Écologique among other partner institutions.

This year’s GEO Week convened government institutions, academic and research institutions, data providers, businesses, engineers, scientists, and experts to create innovative solutions to global challenges at a time of exponential data growth, human development, and climate change that transcend national and disciplinary boundaries.

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