GIS Links Food Security and Demining Programmes

Summary of published paper1

According to a recent article in Humanitarian Exchange, geographic information systems (GIS) are playing an increasingly important role in food security and demining programmes. GIS are computer-generated maps, built up with layers of information. The key components are land use, infrastructure, and topography, on top of which information on other features such as population movements, settlements patterns and accessibility, may also be layered.

Mining poses serious problems in more than 65 countries. In Afghanistan, for instance, an estimated 25% of agricultural land and 66% of grazing land is mined. Identifying areas of fields that can be clearly marked, fenced off or cleared is an important use of GIS mapping, especially when linked to land reclamation activities. High resolution satellite imagery from the internet (IKONOS, IRS)2 provides basic topological and statistical data for an initial framework for analysis. Key visual clues from satellite images include linear ploughshare patterns across patches of terrain, trenches, artificial embankments fencing (especially along borders), evidence of military activity and seasonal variations in land use. However, satellite imagery and remote sensing tend to overestimate the extent of mined areas. Alternative survey methods must then be used to refine initial assessments. For studies on a smaller or very local scale, photos from aerial surveys are an alternative source. New technologies including radar and 3-D imaging for local surveying are being tested and refined. Ground surveys around the perimeter of the suspected minefield can then clarify or correct the maps compiled.

When addressing food security in regions where mines are a risk factor, a combination of data can be digitised and compared, to coordinate demining programmes with security plans. If land use maps were applied to demining, the darkly shaded patches would indicate minefield areas of greater mine density. The lighter shaded areas would therefore indicate the first choice for land clearance, if the requirement were ease and rapidity of response. If other data - for instance, settlements, water sources and roads - were added, the areas of choice would gradually narrow to those locations where clearing mines would have the greatest benefit in terms of access to productive land.

The multiplicity of auxiliary data sources and the number of agencies working in the field make coordination a key obstacle to the effective use of GIS in food security and demining. Experience in Mozambique and Afghanistan has indicated that much information derived from local surveys is incomplete, inaccurate and not based on compatible standards. In conflict regions, it is also difficult to gain uniform access for thorough and timely mapping.

The article concludes that with adequate data input, GIS can reveal relationships not easily discerned through other survey methods, such as the link between the probability of crop failure and a community's risk of food shortage. Food security and demining are both linked to issues of land use, and are therefore ideal sectors for the use of geographical information systems. Identifying land suitable for cultivation is one of the principal benefits of applying GIS in demining strategies.

Show footnotes

1Abott, K (2003). Geographic information systems in food security and demining programmes. Humanitarian Exchange, no 24, July 2003 pp 131-133

2See http://www.infoterra-global.com/

More like this

FEX: Applying GIS to Nutrition Surveys

By Filippo Dibari, Andrew Seal and Paolo Paron Filippo Dibari is a Food Technologist with long term community based experience in developing countries and consultancies with...

FEX: Ethiopia’s Chronic Vulnerability Index

Summary of published research1 The concept of vulnerability has become an important part of food security analyses since the 1980s. It is seen as having two sides; exposure to...

FEX: Protecting production in Africa’s forgotten war

By Anthony Robbins, CARE International UK Toby Peters Angola 95 Still bearing the brunt of a 30-year civil war, millions of Angolans are facing severe food and fuel...

FEX: Population Explorer: Estimate local populations anywhere

By Lisa Jordan and Rob Rose Lisa Jordan is jointly Assistant Professor of Geography and Public Health at Florida State University. Her areas of research include population...

en-net: Stage 3 - Sample size issue - Help

Dear all, We are currently conducting a SQUEAC investigation in two townships of the Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar. We have been doing well so far but we are now facing a...

FEX: GIS surveillance of nomads in Mali

By Thierry Metais, Amador Gomez and Carole Lambert, ACH Thierry Metais is Technical Coordinator of Acción Contra el Hambre in Mali and Niger. He has been working in the Sahel...

FEX: An information system in exile - Is it working?

An Evaluation of the Food Security Assessment Unit, Nairobi The Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) is an information unit based in Nairobi, funded mainly by the EC and...

FEX: Spreading around the globe: ActivityInfo

By Claire Barnhoorn Claire Barnhoorn is a graduate from the NOHA MSc Humanitarian Assistance (UCD, Dublin) and currently working at MSF. Besides a long standing interest in...

FEX: Technical Reference for SQUEAC and SLEAC Methods, 2012

The Technical Reference for Semi-Quantitative Evaluations of Access and Coverage (SQUEAC) and Simplified Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Evaluations of Access and Coverage...

FEX: Review of urban food security targeting methodology and emergency triggers

Summary of report1 People queuing at an Oxfam feeding programme in Mbare, Harare A recent report compiled by Oxfam GB, Concern Worldwide and Action Contre la Faim (ACF)...

en-net: Modified EPI vs Segmentation in Urban Settings

Hello, Id like to know what is the best recommended methodology for SMART Survey in Urban Setting with large population (total population: 500,000p, pop/cluster >2000...

en-net: Urban malnutrition - what do we know?

Urban malnutrition data is very difficult to ascertain, because surveys often do not differentiate between urban and rural, or because there is a view that rural areas are more...

FEX: British Red Cross urban learning scoping study

Summary of report1 The British Red Cross has undertaken a scoping study to better understand the challenges posed by humanitarian action in urban areas, and how the Red Cross...

FEX: Vulnerability Mapping in Urban Afghanistan

Heloise Troc is a food security officer, working for ACF for over 3 years. Her field experiences include acting as a food security co-ordinator in Liberia and...

FEX: Emergency food-based programming in urban settings

Summary of published research1 Children attending Stara School, Nairobi, that receives WFP food support. The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance 11 (FANTA-2) Project has...

FEX: Issue 26 Editorial

Over the years, Field Exchange has had its fair share of criticism to which the editorial team have always tried to respond positively. More often than not, we publish critical...

FEX: The Evolution of Ethiopian Government’s Early Warning System

Dr Kassahun Bedada Beyi Dr Kassahun Bedada Beyi is Early Warning and Response Case Team Coordinator with the Early Warning and Response Directorate. This is located within the...

FEX: Integrated Nutrition and Food Security Surveillance in Malawi

By Elena Rivero, Núria Salse and Eric Zapatero Elena Rivero is currently working for Action Against Hunger as Surveillance Advisor in the Malawi Integrated Nutrition and Food...

FEX: Donor lessons on linking emergency and development funding in urban programming

Summary of article1 Food Insecurity Lessons in Kenya Location: urban Kenya What we know: The urban population in Kenya is disproportionately affected by food insecurity...

FEX: Postscript: Dealing with urban emergency: lessons from Oxfam’s EFSL activities in three cities

By Ian MacAuslan and Laura Phelps Ian MacAuslan leads Oxford Policy Management (OPM)’s education, early childhood development and labour portfolio and is a senior...

Close

Reference this page

GIS Links Food Security and Demining Programmes. Field Exchange 21, March 2004. p6. www.ennonline.net/fex/21/gis