From droughts to floods, climate change impacts food security around the world. Satellite data helps programs like SERVIR respond to these challenges.
Food security – the consistent availability and affordability of food – is a basic human need, yet it remains elusive for billions of people around the world. The United Nations’ 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, released in July, paints a grim picture of this reality: in 2020, nearly 1 in 3 people globally did not have enough to eat, up by more than 300 million people from the previous year.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt food systems and supply chains on a global scale, but the heart of the problem – and the solutions to it – are far more diverse than any single factor. In Kenya, climate change, water shortages, and land degradation jeopardize crops and rangelands. In Southeast Asia, rising temperatures, increasingly variable weather, and low water levels along the Mekong River threaten livelihoods and food production. In Nepal, areas reliant on rain-fed agriculture are extremely susceptible to drought, a phenomenon becoming more frequent in an ever-warming climate.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to these challenges; however, each region has a common ally: a fleet of Earth observing satellites working around the clock to take measurements of everything from snow melt and soil moisture to land cover and plant health. This data is the ultimate tool in building capacity within food systems – and is often the difference between anticipating drought with enough time to prepare or losing crops to lack of water.
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Image via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center