Regional Knowledge Forum on Drought
Earth Observation and Climate Services for Food Security and Agricultural Decision Making in South and Southeast Asia
More than half (59.6%) of the world’s population lives in Asia. The livelihoods of 50% of the region’s rural population depend on rain-fed agriculture, livestock, and forestry. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014 identifies heat-related mortality and malnutrition due to increased drought-related water and food shortages among the top five climate-related risks. The assessment suggests that extreme climate events linked to precipitation and high temperatures will trigger slow-onset events and have adverse impacts on human health, food and water security, livelihoods, and create new vulnerabilities.
South and Southeast Asian countries are among those most prone to natural resource degradation due to intensive human activities and environmental changes. Moreover, producing additional food on limited land and providing economic access to food at the household level to ensure food security will likely continue to be major challenges.
There is considerable research being undertaken on agro-climatic monitoring and modelling. Lessons from such work can inform sustainable crop management decisions and provide farmers and decision-makers with alternative farming system options. Similarly, a large amount of information on climate variability is available, although use of such data by decision-makers remains low. User-oriented, easily accessible, timely, and actionable scientific information in the form of advisory services can assist adaptation to environmental change. Such information can also be used to make wise decisions to limit the economic damage and social disruption caused by environmental disasters.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is collaborating with meteorological and agricultural institutions in the Hindu Kush Himalaya through its SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) and the Climate Services for Resilient Development (CSRD) initiatives to establish agricultural drought monitoring and early warning systems. The aim is to improve the capacity of national agro-meteorology and agricultural agencies to develop data products related to crop monitoring and enhance the knowledge of national scientists about the interpretation of agro-climatic data in their country contexts. Similarly, the SERVIR-Mekong initiative, hosted by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), is establishing a regional drought and crop yield information system for the Mekong region in Southeast Asia. The system will assist local governments and the agricultural sector with drought forecasting and implementing short- and long- term mitigation measures during and before droughts.
In this context, ICIMOD and ADPC, under the framework of the SERVIR initiative, are organizing a three-day Regional Knowledge Forum on Drought: Earth Observation and Climate Services for Food Security and Agricultural Decision Making in South and Southeast Asia. The forum will review and assess existing national practices and policies related to drought monitoring and forecasting, crop monitoring and agriculture advisory services, and cross learning relevant to countries in the HKH and the lower Mekong regions.
The regional knowledge forum intends to deliberate on and address three areas related to agriculture and drought services – i) agricultural and hydrological drought monitoring and early warning systems, ii) crop mapping and yield estimation, and iii) Agromet advisory services.
The forum has the following objectives:
- To identify gaps and needs for sustained information services at regional and national levels for drought monitoring, crop monitoring, and climate services
- To establish a forum (expert group) to foster regional cooperation on agriculture and drought monitoring and management
- To formulate working groups (forum) on regional cooperation for drought early warning systems and agriculture advisory services
The forum will bring together regional experts from key institutions in South and Southeast Asia and internationally renowned experts working on new developments in the use of Earth observation for agriculture and food security. In addition, the forum will entertain participation from the following:
- Regional and local institutions engaged in providing and using agricultural and meteorological services
- Scientific professionals and researchers