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    Early Warning Systems Early Warning Systems Document Transcript

    • ITALIAN COOPERATION Early Warning Systems and Desertification October 1999
    • Table of ContentsEXECUTIVE SUMMARY...................................................................................II1 BACKGROUND............................................................................................. 12 INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................... 23 THE PRESENT SCENARIO ........................................................................54 EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS ...................................................................8 4.1. OBJECTIVES, PRODUCTS AND USERS ......................................................... 8 4.1.1. Objectives .........................................................................................8 4.1.2 Products..........................................................................................10 4.1.3 Users...............................................................................................11 4.2 METHODOLOGY....................................................................................... 13 4.2.1 Type of system.................................................................................13 4.2.2 Scale of application ........................................................................15 4.2.3 Indicators and thresholds ...............................................................16 4.2.4 Geographical distribution ..............................................................18 4.3 MECHANISM OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION .............................................. 225 INFORMATION DISSEMINATION SYSTEMS .....................................226 DATA DISSEMINATION SYSTEMS ....................................................... 247 EARLY WARNING SYSTEM AND DESERTIFICATION.................... 288 CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................... 29 I
    • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY1 BackgroundIn order to contribute to the preparation of the third session of the Committee onScience and Technology and in accordance with decision 12/COP.2, the Italian Co-operation and the Permanent Secretariat to the UNCCD have convened a four-dayworkshop at the Agrhymet Regional Center in Niamey, Niger (from 25 to 28 October1999).The specific objectives of this initiative are:1. to provide the Committee on Science and Technology with an evaluation of the prospects of integrating early warning systems with environmental information, focusing, in particular, on desertification.2. to create an “enabling environment”for the development of early warning systems on desertification, by: - supporting the establishment of operational exchanges between existing projects in the fields of early warning and environmental monitoring over Africa; - promoting the development and testing of practical examples for the integration of early warning approaches with those of desertification.On the occasion of this workshop, the CeSIA - Accademia dei Georgofili, on thebasis of the arrangements between the CCD Secretariat and the Italian Co-operation, prepared a global report on Early Warning Systems and Desertification.The executive summary of this report is annexed.2 IntroductionLate in the ‘70s, as a consequence of the dramatic drought occurred in the Westand East Africa, the famine struk millions of people. The affected areas’administrations and the international community were faced with the need toprovide the appropriate tools to facilitate the mobilisation of measures aimed atmitigating the impact of recurrent droughts.The EWSs that were conceived and implemented in that period can be consideredthe ancestors of the systems in use today. In fact, from a methodological point ofview, they aimed at forecasting the occurrence of a risk situation on two scales: i)the geographic area and ii) the population involved.Since then, as a consequence of both the great results expected from the EWSs -due to their theoretical potentiality as well as to the financial investments involved - II
    • and the unimpressive results obtained, a passionate debate was generated at theinternational level to find the most appropriate solution.It was only in the mid ‘90s, when the technological evolution in telecommunications(the Internet) and information technology (hardware and software) took place inparallel, that the conceptual revision of the structural constraints of the technologicaltype enabled the parallel experimentation of new operational approaches.Based on the above elements, the EWSs are still evolving, thanks to thedevelopment of the vulnerability mapping systems, towards the integratedmanagement of the structural vulnerability analysis. The last is meant as thecapability of a population, a village, a social group to face a negative event, withthe risk forecast, that is the possibility that a negative event occur at a given time.Since now, most of the operational EWSs are not addressing the environmentalaspects, desertification in particular, both in terms of indicators and of factorsaffecting food security. At the same time, the systems dealing with the monitoring ofnatural resources have given priority to the environmental aspects, leaving asidethe human being, as the affected and affecting element of the status ofdesertification.At present, the future scenario seems particularly favourable to a further evolutionof EWSs, as it is characterised by:- an increasingly accessible and timely information;- the development of data integration techniques aimed at producing an immediate, useful and diversified information, according to the needs of the different end users.In fact, a complex and global system is being developed, formed by ‘ entities’producing and distributing processed data, those which are more immediatelyinvolved in early warning and those which create a favourable environment for thecirculation of information.3 EWSs, Data Dissemination Systems and Information Dissemination Systems: the present scenarioAn EWS is based on three main components, namely:the collection of data,the processing of data and the production of information, andthe dissemination of information. III
    • On the basis of this classification, a comparative analysis of the systems operatingin the Internet has been undertaken in the latest months. As a result of this, not somany Early Warning Systems can be considered as such in the strict sense of thisexpression. While the Information Dissemination Systems are still less numerous,there is a definitely larger number of Data Dissemination Systems.The systems inventoried are as follows:A. Early Warning Systems: 1. Agrhymet Alerte Précoce et Prévision des Production Agricoles (AP3A) project 2. USAIDs Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) 3. SADC Food Security Programme (/REWU) 4. FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) on Food and Agriculture 5. FAO Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS) 6. WFP Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM)B. Information Dissemination Systems on environment or desertification: 1. WB PRGIE 2. WB Environment Information Systems (EIS) in Sub-Saharan Africa 3. OSS System for the circulation of Information on Desertification (SID) / Environmental Information and Monitoring System on the Internet (SISEI) 4. Scot Conseil and Medias-France Desertification Data and Information System (D-DIS) 5. CEO - Desertification Information NetworkC. Data Dissemination Systems: 1. European Spatial Agency (ESA) IONIA 2. Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Digital Chart of the World (DCW) 3. EUMETSAT 4. FAO-AFRICOVER project 5. FAOSTAT 6. NOAA Satellite Active Archive (SAA) 7. NOAA/NASA Pathfinder 8. PENN STATE UNIVERSITY, Digital Chart of the World Data Server 9. UN Africa Nutrition Database Initiative (ANDI) 10. UNEP Global Resource Information Database (GRID) 11. USAID CARPE 12. USGS Africa Data Dissemination Center (ADDS) 13. USGS Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center (EDC) 14. USGS LANDDAAC 15. USGS Global Land Information System (GLIS) IV
    • 16. USGS Global Land Cover Characteristics (GLCC) 17. Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) GIS Database 18. WMO Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) 19. European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) 20. World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC)- Forest Conservation4 Basic caracteristics of EWSsThe end users of the early warning system should be the monitored populations(target groups). However, in general, information is not directly reaching theseusers and it is filtered through the national/local institutions providing them with themost objective basis for the identification of the necessary actions to be taken.Therefore, the final objective of any EWS is to provide the decision-makers with thenecessary and timely information on the present food situation in the relevant areas,and the forecast for the end-of-season. As far as objectives and products areconcerned, every single system is characterised by differences depending on thegeographic area of application. These differences are often due to the availability offinancial resources, the availability of data in the national setting, and to the specificagency requirements for the structure and the contents of outputs.The most modern EWSs are based on a very extensive and multidisciplinaryanalysis. The socio-economic aspect is becoming predominant, however, it isinteresting to notice how some systems particularly stress on a specific type ofindicator, such as prices and market trends, food availability, health andmalnutrition. On the other hand, the statistical approach or a complex oneintegrating data from various sources are still in use. This is the demonstration ofhow heavily the system operation environment does affect methodology.Indicators and thresholds represent the conceptual content of the information to beproduced. In fact, the indicator is an intermediary step between the input data andthe final information level. Therefore, indicators could either be based on basic dataor on benchmarks, depending on the complexity of the phenomena to berepresented. As regards the thresholds utilised for each indicator, in order todetermine the early warning or risk level, all the same, the variability between onesystem and the other and between one application and the other within the samesystem is quite important.5 EWSs and desertification: recent trends and future needsThe existing EWSs utilise environmental and socio-economic data and indicators,which could be directly employed to assess land degradation or monitordesertification. The EWSs are deeply focused on food security and they areapproaching other fields of application just occasionally, more for institutional V
    • reasons than for technical causes, in order to avoid any possible conflict betweentraditional and new stakeholders.Therefore, only an increasing pressure from users could facilitate an extension ofthe field of activity from food security to natural resources management.Land degradation, being together a cause and an effect of food scarcity, isgenerally indirectly monitored by the EWS. Due to its intrinsic correlation withhuman and socio-economic factors, desertification could be measured also bymeans of the same methodologies utilised by food security.Nevertheless, some important distinctions must be made. The temporal scale of afood security EWS is basically conditioned by the rapidity of evolution of theprocesses under examination, however, the desertification processes take place inthe medium- and long-term period. The effects of the climatic changes and landdegradation are too slow to be included into a risk analysis such as the crop oragro-pastoral analysis. As a consequence, the time scale of an EWS fordesertification should be extended over a period of several years in order to seeany remarkable changes in evidence.Two items seem to be faced with the most serious impact:§ the micro-scale level analysis of the effects of the populations/environment dynamics in i) the areas where desertification processes are particularly rapid, ii) those with population migrations and iii) those where modifications of the productive systems occur at the same time as remarkable climatic changes;§ at the regional and global level, the assessment of the status of desertification, enabling the analysis of the changes occurred in the last decades, for i) the quantitative assessment of the desertification extension and ii) for the identification of the degree of vulnerability.6 ConclusionsAs of today, the EWSs are deeply evolving, due to the changes occurred in thetechnological environment in which they operate. However, this process should takeinto account the present or potential end users, who are facing as well a newinformation technology and communication world.In the near future, some key questions are arising on how to set up a real demand-driven EWS, rather than a system developed just under the pressure of atechnological push.Need to develop a common language. The integration between a risk analysis anda vulnerability analysis, as the structural frame of reference, has become agenerally shared approach. The different meanings of particular terms, i.e. VI
    • vulnerability and risk, in different systems is still misleading, making interactiondifficult and causing isolation.Facilitated access to and transparency of data. As of today, access to baselinedata, in particular, is really neither free nor facilitated, due both to the difficulties inmaking the data banks’ network operational and to the idea that data collectionwould be the final objective.Accelerated interaction towards the real partnership. A complex system requires – especially at this stage –the real willingness to co-operate with a partnershipattitude, vis-à-vis those institutions that might contribute to its development and thedonors/agencies that are asked for the establishment of a political and institutional‘enabling environment’ .Production of a focused information for decision-making. At present, the conceptualcapability of interpreting information is still behind the information productionpotential, and the risk arises that an unfocused information will be generated. Thiswould charge the user with the task of selecting the information, rather thancommanding it.Users are required to identify the information they need. Users are not ahomogeneous category, as regards both their technical skills and their informationdemand. This is certainly a further difficulty facing the EWSs that must decide,without any active interface, the type of information that is to be provided.Adequate development of national/sub-national nodes. All the systems underconsideration are operating at regional or sub-regional level, even if they produceinformation at the national or local level. How can any national and local EWS befunctionally and institutionally developed, so as to be introduced into the existingnetwork of systems like those under consideration?Acceleration of the passage from food security to security. All the early warningsystems under consideration are expanding to new fields of concern, such aseconomic planning and management of natural resources. Under this aspect, thevulnerability analyses are moving towards an improved interaction betweenenvironmental and socio-economic classifications. In this regard, the attention isbeing drawn on the concept of ‘ security’ which is based on an organic complex of ,data and different only as regards the analysis’path.Technological development should not be considered as a priority. The informationtechnology is sharply and quickly developing. New generations of satellites arerapidly becoming operational. Therefore, the EWSs are endowed with theoreticallymore and more powerful tools. In this framework, it is of capital importance that - with respect to these new tools - priority be given to the development of thoseapplications that would be really suited to the end users. VII
    • AcronymsCentre AGRHYMET Centre Régional de Formation et dApplication en Agrométéorologie et Hydrologie OpérationnelleADDS Africa Data Dissemination ServiceANDI Africa Nutrition Database InitiativeAP3A Alerte Précoce et Prévision des Production AgricolesAVHRR Advanced Very High Resolution RadiometerCARPE Central African Regional Program for the EnvironmentCCD Cold Cloud DurationCEDARE Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and EuropeCEO Centre for Earth ObservationCeSIA Centro Studi per l’applicazione dell’Informatica in AgricolturaCILSS Comité Inter-états pour la Lutte contre la Sécheresse au SahelDCW Digital Chart of the WorldDEM Digital Elevation ModelECMWF European Centre for Medium-Range Weather ForecastsEDC EROS Data CenterEIS Environment Information SystemsEROS Earth Resources Observation SystemsESA European Spatial AgencyESRI Environmental Systems Research InstituteEUMETSAT Europes Meteorological Satellite OrganisationEW Early WarningFAO Food and Agriculture OrganizationFEWS Famine Early Warning SystemFIVIMS Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping SystemsGCOS Global Climate Observing SystemGIEWS Global Information and Early Warning SystemGIS Geographic Information SystemGLCC Global Land Cover CharacteristicsGLIS Global Land Information SystemGRID Global Resource Information DatabaseLANDDAAC Land Distributed Active Archive CenterNAP National Action ProgramNASA National Aeronautics and Spatial AdministrationNDVI Normalized Difference Vegetation IndexNGO Non Governmental OrganizationNOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationOCDE Organisation de Coopération et de Développement EconomiquesOSS Observatoire du Sahara et du SahelPAN Plan d’Action National VIII
    • PAR Plan d’ Action RégionalPASR Plan d’ Action Sous RégionalPRGIE Projet Régional pour la Gestion de l’ Information EnvironnementaleREWU Regional Early Warning UnitSAA Satellite Active ArchiveSADC Southern Africa Development CommunitySAP Système d’ Alerte PrécoceSCOT Services et Conception de systèmes en Observation de la TerreSGBD Système de Gestion de la Base de DonnéesSID System for the circulation of Information on DesertificationSISEI Environmental Information and Monitoring System on the InternetSSM Special Sensor MicrowaveTIROS Television Infrared Observation SatelliteTOVS TIROS Operational Vertical SounderUNEP United Nations Environmental ProgramUSAID United States Agency for International DevelopmentUSGS United States Geological SurveyVAM Vulnerability Analysis and MappingWB World BankWCMC World Conservation Monitoring CenterWFP World Food ProgramWMO World Meteorological OrganizationZAR Zones à Risque IX
    • 1 BackgroundThe United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)1 was signed in Parison 17 June 1994 and came into force on 26 December 1996. It provides the innovativeframework for the sustainable development, in arid, semi-arid, dry sub-humid areas, of anappropriate implementation mechanism to combat desertification at the global, regional,sub-regional and national levels.At its second session, the Conference of the Parties (COP), which is the Conventionssupreme body, held in Dakar from 30 November to 11 December 1998 and adopted - interalia- the following decisions:- to invite Governments to initiate testing the application and the impact indicators as well as the practice of using those indicators in national reporting to the third session of the COP for the Affected African country Parties;- to decide that the priority issue to be addressed in depth by the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) at its third session shall be early warning systems in the broadest sense. Moreover, in order to support the action of CST in regard to this topic, the Parties are invited to submit contributions reporting on the existing experiences of early warning systems, while the specialised Institutions acting in this field are required to facilitate the preparation of the third session.At present, many early warning systems are not addressing environmental issues, inparticular desertification, both in terms of indicators and of factors affecting food security.At the same time, the systems dealing with the monitoring of natural resources have givenpriority to the environmental aspects, leaving aside the human factor, as the affected andaffecting element of the status of desertification.This initiative - which is to be considered in the above context - aims at providing a betterknowledge of the dynamics existing between food security and desertification, as well as tosupport the integration of the desertification dimension in the existing early warningsystems, so as to:- support the action of the Committee on Science and Technology by producing an evaluation on the problems arising when integrating the environmental dimension - desertification in particular - in the early warning systems.1 The Convention to Combat Desertification was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations. In June 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED -- also known as the Rio Earth Summit) recommended that the United Nations General Assembly establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INCD) to prepare a convention to combat desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa. The Committee was established in early 1993. It held five preparatory sessions before adopting the Convention on 17 June 1994 in Paris. 1
    • - create an “enabling environment” among the systems currently under implementation in the fields of early warning and/or environmental monitoring over Africa, bearing an environmental dimension, in particular as regards desertification.This report is a main part of the initiative sponsored by the Italian co-operation, whichinclude a four-day workshop to be held in Niamey, Niger, from 25 to 28 October 1999. Itprovides a framework of comparison among the various existing systems operating in thefields of early warning, monitoring and environmental data dissemination and production,that are accessible through the Internet. The quantity of information available as of today isa unique wealth for the implementation of the UNCCD and it can be promptly employedthanks to a closer collaboration among the projects/institutions called to produce a demand-driven information.This report was prepared by the CeSIA - Accademia dei Georgofili on the basis of thearrangements between the CCD Secretariat and the Italian Co-operation.2 IntroductionLate in the ‘70s, as a consequence of the dramatic drought occurred in West and East Africa,the famine struck millions of people. The affected areas’ administrations and theinternational community were faced with the need to provide the appropriate tools tofacilitate mobilising measures aimed at mitigating the impact of recurrent droughts.In those years, for example, the ORSEC Plan, proposed by the French Co-operation first,and subsequently resumed by the European Community, aimed at ensuring adequate foodsupply to the Sahel populations in case of crisis.The plan was characterised by a “demand for information” clearly identified in terms ofusers, contents, forms and timing for utilisation, on the basis of a detailed analysis of thefactors affecting the Sahelian populations’ food security in case of repeated drought in theforthcoming years.While the analysis recognised the climatic factor to be the key-element in the repetition ofthe crisis condition, however, famine prevention was strictly depending on the possibility tomake available – by the end of July - a reliable information on expected generalised famineconditions. In fact, the effective distribution of food aids was a time-demanding operation,due to: i) the decision-making processes for the supply of assistance by the international co-operations, and ii) the harbour facilities and the primary transport systems in West Africa.In the most vulnerable areas (350-600 mm of rainfall) the cropping season start at thebeginning of July, therefore the relevant information could not rely upon agriculturalstatistics but only on yield forecasting. 2
    • The plan was a rare example of a demand-driven system, rather than a technological push.Unfortunately, due to the limits of technologies and knowledge available at that time, it wasimpossible to implement the whole system and therefore the initiative aborted.The early warning systems that were conceived and implemented in that period can beconsidered the ancestors of the systems in use today. In fact, from a methodological point ofview, they aimed at forecasting the establishment of a risk situation on two scales: i) thegeographic area and ii) the population involved.All along the ‘ 70s, famines were mainly considered as events deriving from particularlysevere dry years, the first early warning systems were, therefore, based on a closecorrelation between food insecurity and the meteorological trends of the year.On the other hand, the agro-meteorological evaluation models of crop yields, were not onlythe sole forecasting instruments available at that time but also the only ones enabling thesupply of a homogeneous information on vast areas. However, the information produced bythose instruments resulted insufficient for the processing of the information regarding theyears that are not particularly dry - when only small areas are struck and the establishmentof crisis conditions is mainly due to the characteristics of the productive/socio-economicsystems.Since then, as a consequence of both the great results expected from the early warningsystems - due to their theoretical potentiality as well as to the remarkable financialinvestments involved - and the unimpressive results obtained, a passionate debate wasgenerated at the international level to find the most appropriate solution.Some misunderstanding arose by the use of the same terminology to characterise earlywarning systems aiming at different objectives or focussing on different kinds ofphenomena. This is demonstrated by the vastness of the bibliography existing on whatshould be an early warning system, and the one concerning the experience gained by theexisting early warning systems in the latest years.These unsatisfactory results were the consequence of structural constraints such as:- the capability of the simultaneous management of data originated by satellites and agro-meteorological models for analysis was available only in specialised centres endowed with the adequate information equipment, where, similarly, a remarkable specialisation level was required;- the specialisation level required to integrate socio-economic and bio-physical data processing by very complex techniques;- the lack of techniques and methodologies appropriate for the processing of information at the territorial level, especially for those data that could not be given a homogeneous coverage; 3
    • - the transfer process of data to and from the specialised centre for the production of information required a time length inappropriate to the intervention that would be required on the phenomena observed, therefore making it useless;- the final information was neither synthetic nor appropriate for decision-making;- the appearance on the scene of new food insecurity causes linked to socio-economic and political factors.The latest solutions were focused on three main axes:- the creation of national systems based on the channelling of all thematic information coming from the different national services towards a common clearing-house mechanism, in order to have at least a qualitative view of the evolution of the crops and of the food risk conditions arising; this approach enabled to orderly process the information incoming to the centre, but could ensure neither a homogeneous quality nor a medium-term forecasting;- the acknowledgement of the nutritional aspects and of those linked to the access to goods as indicators more appropriate for the monitoring of food security; the impossibility of managing the data available on a homogeneous geographic basis has never completely enabled this approach to become operative;- emergency being transformed from an exceptional into a regular event, by giving priority to a more efficient organisation of aid to be constantly operational with respect to their mobilisation only in case of unforeseen emergency. This approach enabled an improved response to the multiplying crises, mostly deriving from political reasons, that have been faced - especially in the last years - but demanded very large financial resources that had to be taken away from the development operations, thus generating an impact on the populations’food security on the long-term.It was only in the mid ‘ 90s, when the technological evolution in telecommunications (theInternet) and information technology (hardware and software) took place in parallel, that theconceptual revision of the structural constraints of the technological type enabled theparallel experimentation of new operational approaches.In fact, while the baseline data and the data collection systems are the same as twenty yearsago, in the course of the last five years, the capability of processing and managing data inorder to produce information and facilitate access to information, has gone through a deeprevolution. In fact, the same information that was earlier:§ punctual, is now spatialised§ qualitative, is now quantitative§ simple and sectoral, is now complex and synthetic§ limitedly disseminated, is now accessible to all§ produced by few specialised centres, is now generated in a decentralised mode and with no need for any particular specialisationSystems that are now in a position to provide forecasts of different crisis-risk levels on amicro scale according to geographic area and involved population (risk villages, target 4
    • groups, etc.) are now getting through the experimental phase and reaching the operationalstage.Based on the above elements, the Early Warning Systems are still evolving, thanks to thedevelopment of the vulnerability mapping systems, towards the integrated management ofthe structural vulnerability analysis. The last is meant as the capability of a population, avillage, a social group to face a negative event, with the risk forecast, that is the possibilitythat a negative event occur in a given time.At present, the future scenario seems particularly favourable to early warning, as it ischaracterised by:§ an increasingly accessible and timely information;§ the development of data integration techniques aimed at producing an immediate, useful and diversified information, according to the needs of the different end users.An analysis of the Early Warning Systems must be necessarily based on those futuredevelopment aspects that are foreseeable from both the technological point of view and fromthe point of view of users as well as of their needs. In this evolution framework, they keeptheir purpose to represent an instrument both for rapid intervention and for the assessment ofthe causes of fragility of a given agro-food/environmental system, even if they are radicallychanging their characteristics.It is now time to speak in terms of families of specialised systems, aiming at supplying theinformation that is adequate to a specific user. In this way, each system is no longer aimed atbeing an autonomous and self-sufficient reality, but the node of a network of systems – or‘entities’– which will facilitate its operations.In fact, a complex and global system is being developed, formed by ‘ entities’ producing anddistributing processed data, those which are more immediately involved in early warningand those which create a favourable environment for the circulation of information. This isthe reason why this analysis focuses on the group of ‘ entities’ that have chosen the Internetas the enabling environment in which they can operate in order to ensure - at the same time - both the free access and the rapid exchange of information.3 The present scenarioAn Early Warning System is based on three main components, namely:1. the collection of data,2. the processing of data and the production of information, and3. the dissemination of information.These three elements can be found all concentrated in the same body or even separate onefrom another. Even though the present trend is demanding a more flexible view, we are stilldefining the Early Warning System as the one encompassing all the three elements. On theother hand, also the other possible ‘entities’ must be considered, that is the information 5
    • dissemination systems and the producers/suppliers of the basic datum, which we shall calldata dissemination services.Graph 1Early Warning System Data Dissemination Service Data processing and information production System Information Dissemination System End usersOn the basis of this classification, a comparative analysis of the systems operating in theInternet has been undertaken in the last months. As a result, not so many Early WarningSystems can be considered as such in the strict sense of this expression. While theInformation Dissemination Systems are still less numerous, there is a definitely largernumber of Data Dissemination Systems. All the three definite categories will be considered,namely:1. Early Warning Systems, in the strict sense of the word;2. Information dissemination systems;3. Data dissemination systems.A compared analysis of these Systems will be presented in the following sections. The bulkof information produced is the one supplied by the Systems themselves through therespective Internet sites. The most detailed analysis was carried out regarding the first classof Systems, by examining both the institutional and the methodological aspects. The systemsof information dissemination and the data dissemination systems were considered mostly inview of the early warning application to desertification. 6
    • Table 1 List of SystemsName URL Early Warning SystemsAgrhymet Alerte Précoce et Prévision des Production http://www.iata.fi.cnr.it/ap3a/ap3a.htmAgricoles (AP3A) projectUSAIDs Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) http://www.info.usaid.gov/fews/SADC Food Security Programme (/REWU) http://www.zimbabwe.net/sadc-fanr/FAO Global Information and Early Warning System http://www.fao.org/giews/english/giewse.(GIEWS) on Food and Agriculture htmFAO Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information http://www.fivims.net/and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS)WFP Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) http://www.wfp.it/vam/vamhome.htm Information Dissemination SystemsWB PRGIEWB Environment Information Systems (EIS) in Sub- http://www.grida.no/eis-ssa/index.htmSaharan AfricaOSS System for the circulation of Information on http://www.bondy.orstom.fr/sid-oss/Desertification (SID) / Environmental Information andMonitoring System on the Internet (SISEI)Scot Conseil and Medias-France Desertification Data http://www.scot-and Information System (D-DIS) sa.com/scotnew/frame_f.htmCEO - Desertification Information Network http://www.wcmc.org.uk/dynamic/desert/ Data Dissemination SyatemsESA IONIA http://shark1.esrin.esa.it/ESRI Digital Chart of the World (DCW) http://www.esri.comEUMETSAT http://www.eumetsat.de/enFAO-AFRICOVER http://www.africover.org/FAOSTAT http://apps.fao.org/NOAA Satellite Active Archive (SAA) http://www.saa.noaa.gov http://daac.gsfc.nasa.gov/CAMPAIGN_DNOAA/NASA Pathfinder AVHRR Land FTP OCS/FTP_SITE/readmes/pal.html#100PENN STATE UNIVERSITY, DCW Data Server http://www.maproom.psu.edu/dcw/UN Africa Nutrition Database Initiative (ANDI) http://www.africanutrition.net/UNEP Global Resource Information Database (GRID) http://grid2.cr.usgs.gov/ http://carpe.gecp.virginia.edu/partners/gsfUSAID CARPE c-umd/UMD/gisthemes.htmlUSGS Africa Data Dissemination Center (ADDS) http://edcintl.cr.usgs.gov/adds/adds.htmlUSGS Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/dsprod/prod.hData Center (EDC) tml http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/landdaac/1KUSGS LANDDAAC M/comp10d.htmlUSGS Global Land Information System (GLIS) http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/webglis http://edcwww.cr.usgs.gov/landdaac/glcc/USGS Global Land Cover Characteristics glcc.html 7
    • Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab http://www.cedare.org.eg/gisRegion and Europe (CEDARE) GISWMO Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) http://www.wmo.ch/European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts http://www.ecmwf.int/charts/charts.html(ECMWF)World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC)- http://www.wcmc.org.uk/forest/data/cdroForest Conservation m2/index.html4 Early Warning SystemsThe analysis for the six Early Warning Systems already in operation is carried out on threedifferent levels:§ Objectives, products and users.§ Methodological aspect, scale of application and indicators employed, and field of application.§ Circulation of information mechanism4.1. Objectives, Products and Users4.1.1. ObjectivesThe final objective of any Early Warning Systems is to provide the decision-makers with thenecessary and timely information on the present food situation in the relevant areas, and theforecast for the end-of-season. As far as objectives and products are concerned, every singlesystem is characterised by differences depending on the geographic area of application.These differences are often due to the availability of financial resources, the availability ofdata in the national setting, and to the specific agency requirements for the structure and thecontents of outputs.The objectives of the various Early Warning Systems can be broadly defined on the basis oftwo different scale levels, that is national/regional and global. At the national/regional level,the first objective identified by GIEWS in the ‘ 70s is the assessment of food supply anddemand, that is the assessment of the food situation. This is the historical framework of allthe traditional Food Security and Early Warning Systems. Differences exist as regards theapplication scale, in fact, while GIEWS follows a global approach, when the assessment iscarried out on all the countries, other systems focus on specific countries or regions – intended as a group of countries – as, for example, the SADC region. Some Systems, likeAP3A are centred, as of today, on the concept of risk, some other Systems, like WFP-VAMand FEWS, focus on the integration between risk and vulnerability.All the Systems, more or less, make a distinction between a statistical analysis of thesituation, which is defined ‘structural analysis’ and a dynamic analysis, which is defined‘conjunctural’ The structural analysis does not take into account the time dimension, .therefore, it cannot represent the progressing development of a phenomenon, while the 8
    • conjunctural analysis, in order to be significative, needs a structural frame of reference. As aconsequence, it is clear that the two analyses are complementary and integrate with eachother. In this framework are to be included both the monitoring of the agricultural seasonand the changes that can lead to risk situations (FEWS).For Systems like AP3A and SADC, the need to determine risk areas leads the analysis to ageographic connotation; the territorial units utilised can either be defined as administrativeunits at various levels, or homogeneous units according to certain characteristics. On theother hand, both FEWS at first, and SADC later, introduce also the concept of human groupsto identify populations in the place of areas, which still represents a criterion of greatcomplexity when shifting from the local to the sub-national and national analyses.Table 2 ObjectivesSystems ObjectivesWFP-VAM Provide an analysis of the baseline data and current vulnerability patterns together with their causality Link the analysis of vulnerability with specific operational programming decisions and problems in the country strategy Strengthen on-going contingency planning exercises and other disaster preparedness measures Integrate VAM analytical techniques into country structureSADC Provide member states and international community with advance information on food security prospects in the region through assessment of expected food production, food supplies and requirements and definition of food insecurity areas and populationFAO- At the national level:FIVIMS Improve policy formulation Improve programme management More effective design and targeting of interventions More effective inter-sectoral and inter-institutional dialogue At the global level: link relevant data from existing internationally-held databases through a commonly- accessible data dissemination system, available in the public domainFAO- Monitoring food supply and demand in all countries of the world on a continuousGIEWS basis Providing information on global production, stocks, trade, export prices Developing new approaches to early warning Sending rapid food supply and demand evaluation missions to the affected countries Report to the international community its regular publicationsUSAID- Improve understanding of the basic causes and circumstances of famineFEWS Detect changes that create serious famine risks Vulnerability assessment Determine appropriate famine mitigation and prevention strategiesAGRHYME Develop a system addressed to help SAP in decision-makingT-AP3A Develop methodologies for the definition of areas at structural and current risk, in agriculture and breeding fields. Provide the International Community with useful information to define investment policies 9
    • Another step forward is to be considered the aim of permanently integrating these analysisprocedures with the methodology utilised in the mechanism of each country’ policy sformulation. What above reflects in the VAM ‘ vulnerability analysis integration with eachcountry’ strategies of planning policies’ or by ‘ s strengthening the decision-making process’in AP3A or by ‘ improving the capability to formulate the national policies, thus allowing abetter-focussed definition for the interventions of FIVIMS. The latter also proposes theobjective of improving relationships and dialogue among the different sectors andinstitutions operating in the field of food security.At the global level, the objectives are submitted to the attention of the internationalcommunity, donors and international agencies. The more generic objective is to provide theinternational community with the useful information, thus enabling the formulation ofinvestment policies, in order to improve food security programmes and reach an in-depthcomprehension of the phenomenon of “hunger”. Moreover, some other Systems, such asFIVIMS, AP3A and FEWS have defined their objective of producing a data disseminationsystem - to be common property and knowledge - capable of integrating the flows of datacoming from different sources and databases. Two additional general objectives of GIEWSare i) to provide the international community with regular publications on food security andii) to develop new approaches for the Early Warning.4.1.2 ProductsIt is difficult to give a precise and univocal definition of the products provided by thedifferent systems. In fact, the products are very much case-specific ones. The smaller, AP3Aor SADC, systems, are characterised by a series of standard products, applied to thedifferent countries in a more or less systematic way.On the other hand, WFP or FEWS depending on the situation - of data inflow and goals tobe reached - produce different types of information. The most complete and complexproducts are WFP and FEWS: they include the analysis of conjunctural risk of bothstructural and conjunctural vulnerability. As regards the conjunctural risk analysis, it ispossible to find the products of the AP3A models, including a very precise indication of riskzone according to the different factors.All the products of the GIEWS, FEWS and SADC’ statistical analysis of agricultural sproductions and market trends are placed on a different information level.For all these systems, the methodology and procedure development is “ se” a product to perbe diffused, while for FIVIMS this is the most important one.Moreover, the differences among the various types of products provided should beconsidered also with regard to the medium and format. For example, some systems, likeGIEWS or WFP, or AP3A, can provide users and the public with bulletins as well as withdigital information, information planes, risk charts, etc. In some cases it is even possible toaccede to special databases containing the very baseline data utilised in processing (ADDSof FEWS, SGBD of AP3A and FAOSTAT of FAO). 10
    • Table 3 ProductsProducts AP3A FIVIMS GIEWS SADC FEWS VAMFood insecure areas and populationFood insecurity assessment bulletinsCrops situations reports and bulletinsFood supply/demand situation bulletinSpecial Reports and AlertsMethodologiesCrop risk index current and baselineCoping strategies/assets indexMarket access indexVulnerability index: current and baselineProducts format Bulletins Regular publications Assessment maps on digital format Informative layers on digital format FAO ADDS Databases on gross or elaborated data SGBD STAT EDC Methodology description Software application4.1.3 UsersThe end users of the early warning system should be the monitored populations (targetgroups). However, in general, information is not directly reaching these users and it isfiltered through the national/local institutions. In the case of early warning for food security,information is mainly aimed at providing the most objective basis on which the userworking on it at any institutional level, can make the best decisions on what are thenecessary actions to be taken.At present, especially in the field of food security, the decision-making process, such as forexample “a given area could be affected by food shortage and it is necessary to send foodaid” normally involves various actors at the local, national and international level:- local administrators, who should properly inform at the central level those responsible for taking action, 11
    • - national services, who should provide at the central level analysis and forecast on possible risk areas,- national focal point, which should sort a synthetic information from all the available data and specific information- political figure in charge, who should make the decision and approve the intervention- international partners, who should support the intervention by mobilising the necessary resourcesMoreover other actors, such as NGOs or the international community, could either interveneindependently in the affected areas or could co-ordinate their intervention with the nationalauthorities.It is clear that an early warning system - as it is the case for Agrhymet-AP3A and thevarious CILSS countries - is not addressing the information to all the involved actors but haspreferred users, in particular the national services, the national focal point able to process theincoming information.This type of users are not, therefore, end users and disseminators of information, they areentities that, in turn, should produce further information.For most Early Warning Systems, another important user is the international communityincluding NGOs as well as the headquarters of internationals organisations and aid agencies.Obviously, the type of information utilised by these users is aimed at assessing countrypriorities in emergency interventions and for long-term action, in particular, for thedefinition of strategies and policies and the identification of target groups and areas ofintervention. Finally a completely different user is the scientific community interested inreceiving data and information to support the development of new methodologies ortechniques.Graph 2 Users Users Other Food Security projects NGO 19% 8% Public National institutions 12% 8% National governments 22% International Local Organisations administrations Local institutions 23% 4% 4% 12
    • In principle, depending on the type of users involved, the types of needs will be differentand obviously also the frequency of the information request will change. For instance, thosewho must decide need very synthetic, reliable and up-to-date information, therefore, at thenational or local level, the information needed will be of the aggregate type, easy tounderstand, explanatory of the situation in the most general way. On the contrary, those whomust process information, to obtain a more synthetic product, need - even if in a schematicformat - a view of the market situation, food demand and supply, trend of the crop year and,on the other hand, a thematic cartography of food vulnerability, in risk zones, insufficientproduction areas, etc.As regards the international community, the requested products will be the overview of thefood security situation, vulnerability classification, possible risk areas, etc.4.2 Methodology4.2.1 Type of systemAccording to the most modern conception, the Early Warning systems are based on a veryextensive multidisciplinary analysis. The socio-economic aspect is evidently predominant,however, it is interesting to notice how some systems particularly stress on prices andmarket trends (FEWS), food availability (WFP-VAM), health and malnutrition (FIVIMS,FEWS). On the other hand, a more statistical, agricultural and food approach is the oneadopted by GIEWS, while AP3A extends its range of action from agro-meteorology tolivestock, also integrating them with socio-economic baseline information. The utilisationof remote sensing for the provision of meteorological information, also integrated by grounddata, vegetation and land cover maps is the common denominator.As regards the scale of information utilisation, as it will be clear further on, some systems,like AP3A, WFP-VAM or SADC, are different, as they also refer to third-level sub-nationaladministrative units, while some others, like GIEWS, are only concerned with higher levels.On the one side, from the point of view of information quantity, GIEWS is the mostextensive one. It may suffice to know that it constantly follows the demand and supply trendof the world cereal market, by elaborating analyses on the production, stocks, export pricelevels, the world trade and aid. This activity of GIEWS, at the world level, is based on anvery large data collection network and supported by evaluation missions in the countriesinvolved. The management of this type of system is faced with the double problem of dataaccessibility and reliability.However, FEWS applies the most complete and complex methodology, as it follows amultidisciplinary approach and is scientifically supported by USGS and EROS. Startingfrom both the remote sensing and agro-meteorological data, FEWS finds the basis necessaryto identify the areas exposed to potential famine. At the same time, by exploiting the dataconcerning food availability and accessibility, it can assess the vulnerability of bothgeographic areas and human groups. Household food insecurity is evaluated at the lowestpossible level of desegregation (typically the third administrative unit), incorporating 13
    • information on the different socio-economic groups within each area to the greatest possibleextent.Graph 3 Data, elaboration and information flow DATA Gross data (rainfall, Partially analyzed data (NOAA and temperature, productions… ) METEOSAT images Indexes… ) ELABORATIONS Data geographic distribution, spatialisation and missing data Data analysis, integration of GIS, Data Bases and models System flexibility, scale changing procedures Data crossing, indicators individuation, structural and impact indicators, indicators extracting methodology; quantitative and qualitative data; algebraic synthesis, overlaying of different informative layers. Risk and vulnerability: territory structural zoning on the basis of vulnerability analysis and risk evaluation (methodology for risk identification or unfavorable events probability and their impact evaluation); utilization of a scale coherent with the methodologies applied in planning; homogeneity between the classification methodologies used for the different countries PRODUCED INFORMATION Vulnerability indicators Impact indicators Base Maps Vulnerability maps Risk maps Early Warning and catastrophic events prevention FEEDBACK INFORMATION Users needs Particular elaboration requests Implementation indicatorsThe approach of VAM is the one which differs from the others. The VAM methodologybaseline is given by the integration between the assessment of food accessibility (or thepopulation’ capability of reaction in case of unfavourable events) and the analysis of risks. sThe latter is an integrated analysis in relation with some particular factors such as : 14
    • Flood/Drought, Vegetative Conditions (NDVI Analysis), Pest Infestation, Market PriceChanges and Health Conditions. The assessment of vulnerability is based on the dataobtained by the integration between food accessibility and risk.The AP3A methodology is the one which differs from the others, in fact, instead of beingcentred on the most traditional economic aspects (prices, markets, etc.), this approach paysgreat attention to the agro-meteorological and agro-pastoral analyses. Agriculturalproduction is the factor that mostly determines food availability: in the Sahel region thisfactor is based on rainfed crops and is mostly destined to self-consumption. Therefore, theso-called food risks zones are those where the rainfed cereal production is insufficient. Theagro-meteorological aspect is, anyway, integrated with the socio-economic aspects,represented by basic information on the agricultural and pastoral production, data onpopulation etc.On the contrary, FIVIMS differs from all the other systems because, more than an EarlyWarning system, it is a network of systems, a connection through which food insecurityinformation is gathered, analysed and collected. At the global level, FIVIMS, somehow,follows the GIEWS approach, still broadening the nutritional aspects. At the country level,the FIVIMS approach serves as support to the development of national Early Warningsystems. Basically, FIVIMS is not so much an Early Warning in the strict sense of theexpression, but it is a tool for the collection of information, study and phenomenon location.The different systems’approach to data analysis is based on two main lines. The first line ofapproach is of the statistical type, which is markedly utilised in the socio-economic dataanalysis as well as in the analysis of all the data that have not been geographicallydistributed. The statistical approach is based, in general, on the analysis of principalcomponents.The second line of approach regards the geographic information systems, which includeboth the analysis and the integration of data that are different at the geographic level. Thisapproach is generally utilised for environmental and land data, namely, all the informationregarding the territorial aspects. These two largely general approaches integrate each otherinto a more complex analysis, which reports both the data and the statistical analysesaccording to the geographic aspects.4.2.2 Scale of applicationThe geographical scale factor does not characterise each system; inside each system thereare different applications and different scales. Anyway, in general, one can say that somesystems are conceived to work at the global level, as for example, GIEWS or WFP-VAM,some others at the continent level, like FEWS, while some of them, like AP3A and SADCwork at the regional-national level. Therefore, the trend is from the global to the local level,still with particular emphasis on the national level.The basic territorial unit is generally an administrative one, from the first to the third sub-national level. As an alternative, the basic territorial unit can be other than the administrative 15
    • one, as the case is for AP3A and all those projects which utilise agro-climatic,environmental and socio-economic zoning. A land classification according to one or moreparameters is obtained by using either one of the two approaches or both of themsimultaneously.On the other hand, the analysis is not always carried out at a precisely geographic level. Infact, according to FEWS, the assessment of vulnerability does concern both somegeographic regions and some human groups. Within one area, there may be several socio-economic groups, each one with its own distinct way of accessing food (small farmers,pastoralists, fisher-folk, refugees, female-headed households, urban dwellers, etc.).Depending on the different production strategies - that is also revenue - the various humangroups are classified into socio-economic groups; it is on these groups that FEWS developedits methodology for the assessment of vulnerability. A geographic region for FEWS is adynamic territorial system presenting homogenous internal characteristics, referred, in thiscase, to food security.4.2.3 Indicators and thresholdsIndicators are defined by the OECD2 as a value calculated starting from a group ofparameters providing information on a phenomenon or its condition. The indicator is aimingat a certain objective and addressed to a certain type of users. It reflects a situation and canhelp decision-making in that particular context. The indicator can either be the measure for aquantitative evaluation or the qualitative element to describe a situation.The application of thresholds to quantity indicators is utilised for the representation of thevarious levels of a phenomenon intensity. The choice of thresholds, which are to be set upfor each indicator, is very important as it is aimed at explaining how serious the situation is.Since the ‘70s, the main indicators utilised for the Early Warning systems were mostly thoserelated to the meteorological season and crops growth; later on, in the ‘ 80s they orientedtowards remote sensing and nutritional data, to reach the socio-economic aspects in the ‘ 90s.Indicators and thresholds, being rather specifically established for each application - as it isthe case for the data utilised and the products obtained - represent the conceptual content ofthe information to be produced. In fact, the indicator is an intermediary step between theinput data and the final information level. Therefore, indicators could be based on basicdata or on indicators, depending on the complexity of the phenomena to be represented inthe information.Obviously, with more specific systems, like AP3A or SADC, they can basically utilise thesame set of indicators for the different countries of application. In fact, their field of actionis at the regional level, while for some projects like GIEWS or WFP-VAM- being the fieldof action far more extended - it requires a wider range of indicators. Anyway the indicatorsutilised basically reflect the approach followed by the various systems.2 OCDE/GD(93)179, Monographies sur l’ environnement, N° 83: Corps central d’indicateurs de l’OCDEpour les examens des performances environnementales, Paris 1993. 16
    • Table 4 IndicatorsIndicators AP3A FIVIMS GIEWS SADC FEWS VAMFood crop performanceCrop conditionsCrop production forecastMarketing and price informationFood supply/demandHealth conditionsFood crops and ShortagesFood supplyFood comsumptionCrop areasPestsFood balanceVegetation frontCCDNDVIBiomassSeeding risk areasExpected season lengthEstimated seeded areasEstimated seeding dateVegetation coverAgro-ecological zonesCrop use intensityVariation coefficient of agriculturalproductionCash crop production areaCoping strategiesAverage cost to travel to nearest marketLivestock productionPopulation densityAccess to waterChildren educationRainfall 17
    • Therefore, we can notice that the AP3A indicators are basically agro-meteorological ones,while the GIEWS indicators follow the approach of agricultural and food statistics, and theWFP or the SADC indicators are mostly agro-economic ones. The meteorologicalindicators are vastly used by all the projects and are produced by remote sensinginformation, which is generally integrated or gauged on ground data.The agro-meteorological indicators are to be considered on a different level. This type ofindicators synthesise and aggregate information related to both the climate and the croppingcharacteristics of soils. The utilisation of these indicators is in close connection with theagro-meteorological follow-up of crops, which has witnessed the development of a vastvariety of simulation and/or forecasting models, which are very often used in the EarlyWarning systems.The socio-economic indicators take into consideration the nutritional conditions ofpopulations, the market macro-economic aspects and the coping capacity, that is thepopulation’ capacity of reaction when faced with a certain unfavourable event. As regards sthese data, collection and, therefore, monitoring are easier for the market data, in fact,GIEWS produce a global coverage. On the contrary, the coping capacity assessment is adifficult operation, as the various human groups often provide very particular and complexresponses. As a consequence, an effective coping capacity assessment is made only forsome very delimited applications (VAM).As regards the thresholds utilised for each indicator, in order to determine the early warningor risk level, all the same, the variability between one project and the other and between oneapplication and the other within the same project is quite important. The subject is evenmore delicate as regards thresholds, in fact, also for countries that are very similar to eachother - or even within the same country - there can be a difference in “sensitivity”. Here weare back to the field of the vulnerability analysis, that is the capacity or incapacity of the - natural or human - environment to react when faced with a negative event, therefore, it hasto be based on complex indicators, that are often based on socio-economic and bio-physicalindicators.4.2.4 Geographical distributionThe majority of Early Warning Systems are targeted on Africa, which gathers more than60% of the systems. GIEWS, FIVIMS and WFP-VAM are also involved in other countries,mainly Asia and Central and Latin America.Africa is to be considered as divided into three main areas or regions, Western Africa,Southern Africa and Eastern Africa. GIEWS, WFP-VAM and FEWS cover all the threesub-regions, while SADC covers only Southern Africa and AP3A part of Western Africa(CILSS countries). 18
    • Table 5 Geographical distribution of Early Warning Systems Countries AP3A FIVIMS GIEWS SADC FEWS VAM Afghanistan Algeria Angola Bahrain Bangladesh Benin Bhutan Bolivia Botswana Brazil Brunei Darussalam Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Cape Verde Central African Republic China Comoros Congo Costa Rica Cuba Cyprus Djibouti Dominica East Timor Ecuador Egypt Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Gambia Ghana Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau 19
    • Countries AP3A FIVIMS GIEWS SADC FEWS VAMIndiaIndonesiaIranIraqIsraelIvory CoastJapanJordanKenyaKoreaKorea, Democratic RepublicKuwaitLaosLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaMacaoMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMongoliaMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNigerNigeria 20
    • Countries AP3A FIVIMS GIEWS SADC FEWS VAM Pakistan Peru Reunion Rwanda Sao Tome and Principe Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa Sri Lanka Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Tchad Togo Tunisia Turkey Uganda Venezuela Zambia ZimbabweGraph 4 Systems geographical distribution Center-South America 6% Asia 26% Africa 68% 21
    • 4.3 Mechanism of access to informationEarly warning makes no sense if it is not followed by any action; action takes place only ifthe information is timely disseminated. Therefore, the information disseminationcomponent of the system plays a very important role in Early Warning System. Most ofthem are based on a more or less extensive network of data collection as well as on adissemination network and a comparison between the two is not always possible.As a matter of fact, information is not always efficaciously disseminated yet, nevertheless,this is a vital and crucial component for every Early Warning System. The main reason isthat traditional techniques are more and more out-of-date, while new technologies - enablinga timeliness which would not have been possible a few years ago - have not reached asufficient level of diffusion among users.One very clear example is GIEWS, which gathers information about almost all the worldcountries through an enormous data collection network, which is not anyway gauged on theone which disseminates the results. Indeed, it should be stressed that an Early WarningSystem should be conceived in order to facilitate the access to the produced informationbased on a technology going beyond the national and administrative borders: the Internethas become the great instrument.All the Early Warning Systems have their own web site, where bulletins, reports anddocumentation are easily accessible. However, the main numeric products of dataprocessing or any indicators, such as maps, are not always disseminated through theInternet. It must be pointed out that, even those which provide free access to thematic,vulnerability and risk maps (GIEWS, AP3A, FEWS and WFP-VAM) do not ordinarilydiffuse the same maps in a format enabling their utilisation by a GIS.On the contrary, it is possible to find database online, which give the possibility ofdownloading of both baseline data and partially processed data.Bulletins are still the most traditional output to be circulated by an Early Warning System.For instance all the Early Warning Systems have a regular bulletin online all along the yearor during the crop season. Bulletins are often supported by special reports and periodicals ordiscontinuous publications on thematic evaluation or assessments or methodology.5 Information Dissemination SystemsThe information dissemination systems mainly focus on environment themes and, amongthem, desertification plays the most important role. As of today the more developed systemsare:1. WB-Projet Régional pour la Gestion de l’ Information Environnementale (PRGIE),2. WB Environment Information Systems (EIS) in Sub-Saharan Africa 22
    • 3. OSS System for the circulation of Information on Desertification (SID) / Environmental Information and Monitoring System on the Internet (SISEI),4. Scot Conseil and Medias-France Desertification Data and Information System (D-DIS)5. CEO - Desertification Information Network,6. CEO - EWSE Information Exchange for Earth ObservationAs a general rule, all these systems do not directly produce any information but are aimed atdisseminating information or facilitating access to the information produced by others likethe Early Warning Systems or Data Dissemination Systems.The Internet is no doubt the favourite environment even though some systems, PRGIE andEIS, are building parallel networks not accessible from outside, with the objective ofcreating an enabling environment among the users.CEO - Desertification Information Network focuses on desertification, however it is notcompletely developed yet. The EWSE, which is connected with CEO, is an on-lineinformation service for the Earth Observation community. Even if, as a matter of fact, theEWSE is rather a list of Internet sites than a real system for disseminating information. TheD-DIS of Scot Conseil is still being tested, therefore, at present information is only availableon CD-ROM.In fact, it is only OSS-SID that is making information available on the Internet. Theinformation available concern territorial analysis through biophysical indicators and baselinedata. The most complete and aggregate information that OSS-SID is able to supply is aclassification of evapo-transpiration and of vegetation.The objectives of OSS-SID are to:1. allow, at different scales, to accede and disseminate selected information, validated and made available under such forms that may be understandable and accessible to the operators potentially involved in combating desertification;2. support the institutions involved in the designing of NAP, SRAP and RAP ;3. effectively connect the operators involved in combating;4. disseminate, make accessible and circulate information and products aimed at and useful to combating desertification;5. assist the various interested and involved partners with the NAP, SRAP and RAP processing, setting up and follow up operations;6. assist the planning and decision-making as regards combating desertification.The area of application of the Project includes the Sahel, Northern and Eastern Africa.Application is planned at the national scale, as regards the whole region, plus a number ofnational systems as regards Mali, Senegal and Benin. SID Senegal is the only operationalone.The OSS-SID Internet site is available for the visualisation of charts, it allows thesuperposition of different thematic information, however neither allows to carry out analysesnor to download information plans under the GIS format. 23
    • 6 Data Dissemination SystemsThe Data Dissemination Systems represent a source of data or processed data that arecurrently exploited by the Early Warning Systems and the Information DisseminationSystems. In fact, it could happen that the same product generated by a Data DisseminationSystem is diffused more widely by an Information Dissemination System.Most of these Data Dissemination Systems are databases mostly based on physical data,focusing on satellite and morphological information on soils, integrated by baseline data aswell as by data on the population.It must be noticed that AFRICOVER, of FAO, is under construction and even if its data arenot available yet, the methodology has been formulated and the project is already inoperation. Moreover, as regards FAO, FAOSTAT can also be useful vis-à-vis data andstatistics at the national level. Obviously the FAOSTAT information is limited to theeconomic aspects of the market production as well to the social aspects vis-à-vis thenutritional and the population data. The UN Africa Nutrition Database Initiative (ANDI) isalso to be considered when dealing with the socio-economic aspects.Table 6Data set name Data available Data format Data sourceESA IONIA 1 km AVHRR Global Land Data Set NOAA Image Fire Atlas Data ESAESRI DCW Geo-political Socio-economic ArcView Climate ESRI format Soils Vegetation coverEUMETSAT Meteosat images EUMET Images Meteorological data SATFAOSTAT Economy and nutrition Tabular FAONOAA SAA Remote sensing AVHRR, Images NOAA TOVS, SSMNOAA/NASA Remote sensing NDVI 8 km Images NOAAPathfinder NDVI 1 degreePENN STATE PopulationUNIVERSITY Base maps ArcInfo exportDCW Data Server Hydrology ESRI format .e00 Digital Elevation Model Land CoverUN ANDI Economy WB FAO Nutrition Tabular UNICEF WHO 24
    • Data set name Data available Data format Data sourceUNEP/GRID Global Ecosystem Global Vegetation Veg.Cultivation.Albedo UNEP Data Global Methane from Livestock Global Soil Texture Data Soil Data Human Induced Soil degradation Raster and General Climatic Life Zone Vector Climatic Long Term Climatic Data Averages Surface Crustal Temp Global Elevation (5 min) USGS Topographic Global Elevation (10 min) Data Global Wetlands Database Population Distribution DatabaseUSAID CARPE Population data National Vector and Vegetation Maps Image Maryland Uni. Climate Rainfall Florida Uni. Protected Areas WCMC WRI Remote Sensing NDVI NOAA Land cover GRIDUSGS, EDC DAAC Land Cover Characteristics Data Base USGS Land Use/Land Cover Scheme Seasonal Land Cover Regions Simple Biosphere Model Scheme Simple Biosphere 2 Model Scheme Vector and Global Ecosystems USGS Image International Geosphere Biosphere Program Biosphere Atmosphere Transfer Scheme DCW Urban Digital Elevation Model GTOPO30 Global 30 Arc Second Elevation DEM 1 KM Image USGS Data Set HYDRO 1K Streams, Drainage Elevation basins, ancillary layers Image and USGS Derivative derived from digital Vector Database elevation 25
    • DataData set name Data available Data source formatUSGS & NOAA: Satellite/Image Data AVHRR NDVI Image NOAAAfrica Dissemination Rainfall estimatesData Center Digital Map DataADDS Administrative Rain Stations Boundaries Reference Maps Agro-Climatic Zones Roads Image and Cropland Use Intensity Vegetation Vector Digital Elevation West African CIA Model Spatial Analysis OALS Hydrology Project Railroads Tabular Data/Statistics Agricultural Statistics Tabular Precipitation PricesUSGS LANDDAAC NDVI 1 Km Image NOAAUSGS Global Land Climate Land coverInformation System Elevation Satellite imagery Images USGSGLIS Geology Soils Vector NOAA HydrologyUSGS Global Land Land Cover USGSCover Characteristics Global Ecosystems Image NOAAGLCC Digital Elevation Model NASACEDARE GIS Soil Vector ACSAD/UN ESCO Hydrology Vector National Basemaps Vector National Population Land use Vector ESRI Dem Vegetation Vector ESRI Land cover Vector ESRIWMO GCOS Climate and meteo WMOECMWF Meteo forecast ECMWFWCMC Global African forests and protected areas.Overview of Forest African Ecological Zones, forest cover and MapsConservation protected areas. WCMC Forest type Total area of forest in each country Tabular Forest area in each ecological zone 26
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    • The USGS proposes a series of data sets with emphasis both on remote sensing data and ontheir processing, such as land cover maps. The NOAA Satellite Active Archive (SAA)clearly focuses on the global cover of the NOAA products; processed data are also available,still they mostly concern the national level. The Pennsylvania State University and the ESRIare worth mentioning as they offer access to the Digital Chart of the World.The field of application is varied enough as it ranges from the global to both the national andlocal levels. The GRID and Eros Data Center, for example, have a more extendedapplication, i.e. the global level, while ADDS is limited to the African area, as the acronymclearly shows, and the CEDARE is structured on a country basis.Graph 5 Available data B as e m a p s C lim a t ic D a t a W ater res o u rc e s 7% 12% 7% Econom y 9% V e g e t a tio n S oil D a t a 28% 15% P o p u lation R e m o t e s e n s in g 11% 11%7 Early Warning System and desertificationEarly Warning Systems are largely based on bio-physical data and do normally performalso environmental evaluation finalised to the assessment of food security. The list includesvegetation evaluation/monitoring, by means of remote sensing, agro-ecological or agro-climatic zoning, land use and land cover classifications etc..The existing Early Warning Systems utilise environmental and socio-economic data andindicators, which could be directly employed to assess land degradation or to monitordesertification. The EWSs are deeply focused on food security and they are approachingother fields of application just occasionally, more for institutional reasons than for technicalcauses, in order to avoid any possible conflict between traditional and new stakeholders.Therefore, only an increasing pressure from users could facilitate an extension of the field ofactivity from food security to natural resources management.Desertification is an element which affects the eco-systems, that are generally monitored bythe Early Warning Systems, in fact it is together a cause and an effect. Soil degradation isthe result of natural processes that are either induced or catalysed by man. It produces thedeterioration of the vegetation cover, soil and water resources. Through a series of physical, 28
    • chemical and hydrological processes, this deterioration causes the destruction of both thebiological potential of lands and their capability to sustain the populations involved.Land degradation being together a cause and an effect of food scarcity, it is generallyindirectly monitored by the EWS. Due to its intrinsic correlation with human and socio-economic factors, desertification could be measured also by means of the samemethodologies utilised by the food security.Nevertheless, some important distinctions must be made. The temporal scale of a foodsecurity EWS is basically conditioned by the rapidity of evolution of the processes underexamination, however, the desertification processes take place in the medium- and long-term period. The effects of the climatic changes and of land degradation are too slow to beincluded into a risk analysis such as the crop or agro-pastoral analysis. As a consequence,the time scale of an EWS for desertification should be extended over a period of severalyears in order to see remarkable changes in evidence.Two items seem to be faced with the most serious impact:§ the micro-scale level analysis of the effects of the populations/environment dynamics in i) the areas where desertification processes are particularly rapid, ii) those with population migrations and iii) those where modifications of the productive systems occur at the same time as remarkable climatic changes;§ at the regional and global level, the assessment of the status of desertification, enabling the analysis of the changes occurred in the last decades, for i) the quantitative assessment of the desertification extension and ii) for the identification of the degree of vulnerability.8 ConclusionsAs of today, the Early Warning Systems are deeply evolving, due to the changes occurred inthe technological environment in which they operate. However, this process should take intoaccount the present or potential end users, who are facing as well a new informationtechnology and communication world.In the near future, some key questions are arising on how to set up a real demand-drivenEWS, rather than a system developed just under the pressure of a technological push.Need to develop a common language. The integration between a risk analysis and avulnerability analysis, as the structural frame of reference, has become a generally sharedapproach. The different meanings of particular terms, i.e. vulnerability and risk, in differentsystems is still misleading, making interaction difficult and causing isolation. 29
    • Facilitated access to and transparency of data. As of today, access to baseline data, inparticular, is really neither free nor facilitated, due both to the difficulties in making the databanks’network operational and to the idea that data collection would be the final objective.Accelerated interaction towards the real partnership. A complex system requires – especiallyat this stage –the real willingness to co-operate with a partnership attitude, vis-à-vis thoseinstitutions that might contribute to its development and the donors/agencies who are askedto establish a political and institutional ‘enabling environment’.Production of a focused information for decision-making. At present, the conceptualcapability of interpreting information is still behind the information production potential,and the risk arises that an unfocused information will be generated. This would charge theuser with the task of selecting the information, rather than commanding it.Users are required to identify the information they need. Users are not a homogeneouscategory, as regards both their technical skills and their information demand. This iscertainly a further difficulty facing the EWSs that must decide, without any active interface,the type of information that is to be provided.Adequate development of national/sub-national nodes. All the systems under considerationare operating at regional or sub-regional level, even if they produce information at thenational or local level. How can any national and local EWS be functionally andinstitutionally developed, so as to be introduced into the existing network of systems likethose under consideration?Acceleration of the passage from food security to security. All the early warning systemsunder consideration are expanding to new fields of concern, such as economic planning andmanagement of natural resources. Under this aspect, the vulnerability analyses are movingtowards an improved interaction between environmental and socio-economic classifications.In this regard, the attention is being drawn on the concept of ‘security’ which is based on an ,organic complex of data and different only as regards the analysis’path.Technological development should not be considered as a priority. The informationtechnology is sharply and quickly developing. New generations of satellites are rapidlybecoming operational. Therefore, the EWSs are endowed with theoretically more and morepowerful tools. In this framework, it is of capital importance that - with respect to these newtools - priority be given to the development of those applications that would be really suitedto the end users. 30