The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of France recently launched an in-kind partnership, which will allow FAO and other actors to strategically focus their Somalia flood response efforts with innovations in technology and satellite imagery. The funding will support flood response efforts in three areas: analysis of watercourse breaks and assessment of the mitigation infrastructure put in place; monitor and assess possible cyclone damage and reconstruction efforts; and near real-time monitoring of the impact of floods to guide emergency response. FAO is constantly exploring new ways to optimize the use of technology to improve its programming by diversifying its partnerships with private sector actors. This funding will support a partnership with Airbus, a pioneering private company in the aerospace sector, with exclusive commercial access to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation, Pléiades, SPOT, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X satellites. This collaboration will be a driver of innovation for the emergency response and relief efforts of FAO and humanitarian partners in Somalia.
Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs comes at a crucial time, “said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia, who added:” In terms of timing, there is an increased risk of flooding in several regions In the country this year, the availability of funds for humanitarian response efforts, it requires us to ensure that ground operations are more strategically guided and more precise than ever. “
France has been an active and generous partner of FAO over the years, working closely with the Organization in support of food safety, nutrition and agricultural development goals in Somalia. This project will support the main data collection activities for FAO Land and Water Information Management in Somalia (SWALIM) which uses remote sensing and image analysis for robust monitoring actions and events. floods. In particular, satellite images acquired by Airbus will be used to assess the state of the banks of the Shabelle and Juba rivers currently deemed to be at high risk, providing FAO and its partners with crucial information for flood preparedness and response. and Somali institutions.
“With this support from the Crisis and Support Center of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in agreement with the Airbus Foundation, we wish to support FAO’s innovative and technological approach in the monitoring and prevention of floods by Somalia at a critical time. We see disaster management (and in particular flooding) as a key issue to preserve livelihoods and break the cycle of humanitarian crises facing the Somali people, ”said Aline Kuster-Ménager, Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of France to Somalia.
High-tech response boosts emergency flood response effort
Satellites and new technologies have proven to be a game-changer in FAO’s emergency efforts in recent years. Remote sensing tools continue to help FAO lead the way and open up new horizons by reaching remote or previously inaccessible rural areas, especially in times of COVID-19. These tools not only inform rescue and response operations, they support flood preparedness and emergency planning. In addition to mapping bank ruptures, SWALIM monitors areas of potential flooding along the Juba and Shabelle rivers using very high resolution satellite images; this information plays a vital role in helping local authorities and communities both close open ruptures and monitor potential new ones. In addition, when floods are likely to occur, SWALIM activates its Digniin early warning system, sending SMS alert messages to high-risk riparian communities.
“This funding underpins an agreement between FAO and Airbus which gives the flexibility to upload very high resolution images in a very short period of time, allowing SWALIM to collect information on flooded areas in near real time. This means that we will be able to improve our efficiency in dealing with flood-related emergencies, ”noted Ugo Leonardi, SWALIM technical advisor.