Satellite based drought monitoring and crop yield forecasting in the Sahel region

The Sahelian zone of West Africa is 400 to 800 km high and more than 4000 km wide. It is one of the very large semi-arid zones of the world, and rainfall is both scarce add highly irregular. To mitigate the effects of drought in the Sahel, flexible response polities and mechanisms are required for different production systems, protection measures, and decision making. Unfortunately, quantitative, reliable, and timely information for decision makers and farmers to act upon is not available. The EARS Energy and Water Balance Monitoring System provides data to fill this gap.

This project was implented together with the AGRHYMET Regional Centre, and will help to carry out its mandate to monitor and document agro-meteorology, crop growth, and desertification. The implemented system achieved several objectives:

  • Establish a Meteosat based monitoring system at the Agrhymet regional centre in Niamey, Niger.
  • Develop a drought and desertification monitoring sub-system that will provide regional drought and desertification maps
  • Develop a crop and pasture yield forecasting sub-system that will provide 10-daily crop yield forecasts during the growing season
  • To train experts from Agrhymet and end-user organizations to view, analyze, and use the drought and crop yield forecasting technology in their day-to-day operations.

With the onset of the 2013 growing season workshops were held in Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger with participants from a variety of government departments involved in meteorology, agriculture, food security, drought management and related fields.