Brown, ME; Brickley, EB (2012). Evaluating the use of remote sensing data in the US Agency for International Development Famine Early Warning Systems Network. JOURNAL OF APPLIED REMOTE SENSING, 6, 63511.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) provides monitoring and early warning support to decision makers responsible for responding to food insecurity emergencies on three continents. FEWS NET uses satellite remote sensing and ground observations of rainfall and vegetation in order to provide information on drought, floods, and other extreme weather events to decision makers. Previous research has presented results from a professional review questionnaire with FEWS NET expert end-users whose focus was to elicit Earth observation requirements. The review provided FEWS NET operational requirements and assessed the usefulness of additional remote sensing data. We analyzed 1342 food security update reports from FEWS NET. The reports consider the biophysical, socioeconomic, and contextual influences on the food security in 17 countries in Africa from 2000 to 2009. The objective was to evaluate the use of remote sensing information in comparison with other important factors in the evaluation of food security crises. The results show that all 17 countries use rainfall information, agricultural production statistics, food prices, and food access parameters in their analysis of food security problems. The reports display large-scale patterns that are strongly related to history of the FEWS NET program in each country. We found that rainfall data were used 84% of the time, remote sensing of vegetation 28% of the time, and gridded crop models 10% of the time, reflecting the length of use of each product in the regions. More investment is needed in training personnel on remote sensing products to improve use of data products throughout the FEWS NET system. (C) 2012 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). [DOI: 10.1117/1.JRS.6.063511]