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EO Clinic: Drought Monitoring and Early Warning in Afghanistan


EO Clinic support requested by: World Bank Group (WBG) Urban, Resilience and Land Global Practice, Regional Team Africa
Requesting activity: Afghanistan – Early Warning, Early Finance and Early Action Project (P173387)
Requesting activity type: Grant

EO Clinic relevant Thematic Groups: TG1 (Agriculture), TG4 (Disaster Risk Management), TG10 (Water Resources Management)

Work Order number: EOC0022
Work Order status: On Hold
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Afghanistan is highly vulnerable to intense and recurring natural hazards that further threatens growth and stability and droughts have the most widespread impact. Weather, water and climate (hydromet) services, and early warning mechanisms in Afghanistan are incomplete and fragmented. Vulnerability to food insecurity is pervasive and rising, exacerbated by drought, displacement due to conflict and climate-drivers and now the economic disruption of COVID-19. In 2016–2017, an estimated 45% of the population of Afghanistan were considered food insecure. This succession of crises has highlighted the urgent need to establish a shock-responsive approach to managing food insecurity to strengthen the humanitarian-development nexus.

The early warning component (Component 1) of the Bank project will support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) in 1) establishing and operationalising drought early warning decision support (Afghanistan Drought Early Warning Decision Support – AF-DEWS), 2) improving its capacity to develop and deliver critical weather, water, and climate information services, and 3) strengthening disaster preparedness for community resilience.

In addition to building systems, these activities will support planning in Component 2 (for example, identification of risk-informed plans for community public works) and Component 3 (for example, information that can support leveraging of layered financing).

The AF-DEWS is a cloud-based system which enables data sharing with all relevant hydromet agencies and relevant stakeholders. The Early Warning Component is implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development and Reconstruction (MRRD) with the support of key technical partners. There are six key Government agencies involved in the development of the tool: the hydromet agencies (Afghanistan Meteorological Department, AMD and the Water Resource Directorate, WRD), the Ministry of Agriculture (MAIL), the DRM Agency (State Ministry for Disaster Management, SMDM) and the National Statistics and Information Authority (NSIA).

Problems to be Addressed and Geospatial Information Gaps

In Afghanistan, the Bank project requires support with: 1) better monitoring, identifying and assessing meteorological, hydrological, and agricultural droughts; 2) the definition of drought thresholds and validation using on-ground datasets; and 3) inclusion of additional medium/long range and seasonal weather forecasts (in particular temperature and precipitation).

The AF-DEWS currently relies on Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) data from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), and agricultural drought indices mostly from MODIS, via Google Earth Engine. The project would like to enhance the essential meteorological and satellite data holdings in the system and leverage APIs to allow near-real-time processing and provision of additional products. Especially in relation to agricultural drought indices, the AF-DEWS is mostly relying on MODIS dataset (250 m spatial resolution). The Bank team would like to explore the potential to use higher resolution and more frequent datasets such as Sentinel-2 and/or Landsat 7/8 products to improve the overall spatial resolution (and accuracy) of the data.

Information Services to be Delivered

  • Service 1: Drought Monitoring and Early Warning


Prime contractor