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Immediate use of data

Immediate use of data

Organizational surveys

How FAO’s modern data platform is accelerating emergency relief operations in Afghanistan and beyond


On the morning of October 7, 2023, two successive earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.3 struck western Afghanistan, causing significant loss of life, injuries and damage across the region. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 1,834 people died and 1,853 were injured. More than 21,500 homes were also destroyed, affecting a total of 154,000 people. Irrigation canals, essential to crops, have collapsed. Large numbers of animals died or became weak, and the survivors needed help to resume their agricultural activities.

Just two days after the disaster, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) carried out a rapid assessment of the impact of the damage on people, livestock and crops, and led teams emergency response to the places most in need.

This was achieved thanks to the development of the center Emergency data (DIEM) This revolutionized the organization’s ability to collect, analyze and disseminate data in countries exposed to shocks.

“When it comes to organizing relief operations, the first few days after a disaster are crucial,” said Rein Paulsen, Director of FAO’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience. “Together, collecting detailed, comprehensive, real-time data allows us to target. those who need it most.

The Emergency Data System provides this by combining remote sensing, in the form of satellite images, with primary data, such as surveys and interviews, collected by local enumerators working in the field. The result is a detailed and rapid understanding of the effects of shocks, enabling a more informed and rapid response. Shocks analyzed by the emergency data system include both natural and man-made hazards, from climate-related crises to volcanic eruptions and invasive pests, as well as conflict or economic shocks.

The project, which was launched during the first wave of the global COVID-19 pandemic, aims to guide decision-making to support emergency response activities and protect lives and agricultural livelihoods.

Beyond emergencies, FAO uses the Emergency Data System to carry out regular monitoring in countries vulnerable to natural disasters and experiencing different levels of food insecurity. Through multiple data collection cycles over several years, the system can identify trends in time and space. The tool is characterized by its speed of analysis, precision of details and pace, making this data indispensable for a rapid response of the Organization, other United Nations agencies, governments and other partners in the world.

Immediate use of data
Immediate use of data

By combining remote sensing, in the form of satellite images, with primary data, such as surveys and interviews, collected by local investigators working in the field, the tool has revolutionized the organization’s ability to collect, analyze and disseminate data in more than 30 countries. , Including Nigeria (top right) and Sierra Leone (bottom left). ©FAO

Response to the earthquake that hit Afghanistan

In response to the Herat earthquake, the organization completed its rapid impact assessment on October 9 and conducted an additional field assessment on October 11.

Based on the recommendations and results of the rapid assessment, which included both remote sensing and field elements, the organization identified the most affected villages in terms of livelihoods, agriculture and breeding. Thanks to the inclusion of detailed maps of the most affected locations, it is considered… Impact assessment The use of an emergency data system is extremely valuable in rescue operations.

Regarding the damage caused to the agricultural sector, the assessment revealed that 278,577 hectares of agricultural land were exposed to the most severe levels of the earthquake, and that the greatest challenge the sector faced was the collapse of canals irrigation, which play a very important role for crops. , especially during the planting season. Additionally, 2,072 animals died and the remaining 12,400 surviving animals were likely weakened.

Based on this assessment, FAO responded by providing 12,000 liters of water to protect 2,500 animals at risk in the absence of water supplies, and helped move livestock to safer pastures. A total of 1,454 dead animal carcasses were disposed of and 268.5 tonnes of concentrated animal feed and 1,364.5 tonnes of wheat straw were distributed to thousands of households in need.

Thanks to the assistance provided by the organization, households were able to care for their animals and devote their limited resources to other necessities arising from the earthquake.

Immediate use of data

The Emergency Data System is an essential tool for decision-makers who need to analyze the causes of severe food insecurity during times of shocks, such as the Afghanistan earthquake. ©FAO

Between past and future

The Emergency Data System is developed by FAO and funded by the USAID Humanitarian Office and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Today, this information system covers more than 30 countries and constitutes a crucial tool for decision-makers who must analyze the causes of severe food insecurity in times of shocks, such as the earthquake in Afghanistan.

In 2024, the system has already carried out five rapid impact assessments. The assessments included shocks such as: Fires in Colombia AndTropical cyclone in Madagascar. These assessments help mobilize resources and guide recovery responses, which is exactly what happened in Afghanistan.

Four years after its launch, the system continues to highlight the effects of shocks on agricultural livelihoods and food security, and operates on the principle that there is knowledge in data, and in knowledge there is there is power.

Links related to the topic

for more information

Website: FAO Emergency Data Center

Website: FAO Office for Emergencies and Resilience

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