African Flood and Drought Monitor finds Applications in Health, Epidemiology and Migration studies

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Developed by Princeton University’s Terrestrial Hydrology Group in collaboration with UNESCO IHP, G-WADI secretariats and members, regional centers, the African Flood and Drought Monitor (AFDM) monitors and forecasts meteorological, agricultural and hydrological drought at various temporal and spatial scales. It also has a multi-decadal, historical reconstruction of the terrestrial water cycle against which current conditions can be compared.

Some of the applications of the AFDM were foreseen by its developers, but researchers and international development specialists are finding ways to use the monitor in many creative ways. In the last two years alone, AFDM data and information have been used for:

Drought Resilience: Controlling for drought variables with the AFDM helped USAID establish that a) the overall shock exposure in Niger vs. Burkina Faso during their RISE study was due to insect invasions and food price increases, not climate; and b) their market-based interventions in the PRIME program in Ethiopia were effective.

Impact of Irrigation Dams: Use of AFDM drought indices helped show that in northern Nigeria households downstream of the dams were less affected by drought and enjoyed more stable growth rates and food consumption than those upstream or in similar but undammed basins.

Human migration: Rainfall shortages and excess temperature, with soil moisture as an additional important factor, are strong drivers of out-migration from South Africa, especially for black and low-income migrants.

Health and Epidemiology: a) Temperature drives both tsetse fly relative abundance and trypanosome prevalence in Tanzania; b) Risk of cholera transmission in Cameroon varies with average daily maximum temperature and with the precipitation levels over the preceding two weeks.

References for these applications are available upon request.