Space4SDG1: No Poverty

Published by- Joy Agrawal on 26/05/2021

According to the United Nations, people who live on less than 1.9 dollars a day come below the poverty line which according to a 2015 survey 10 percent of the worlds population fall below. Poverty is the root cause for most of the other SDGs and hence is enlisted first and in the red colour illustrating its importance. The main causes for poverty are no means of livelihood, displacement due to natural calamities and exploitation by employers in highly populous regions.

UNOOSA lists the main domains where Space Technology can help contribute to No Poverty are listed below:

  1. Forecasting natural disasters and better coordinate aid provisions

  2. Optimising sustainable utiliosation of natural resources

  3. Providing efficient support to vulnerable population

  4. Mapping Populous areas and their access to basic services.

Remote sensing can aid in forecasting natural calamities in advance. This can help citizens to evacuate their houses and take some valuable belongings with them on which they can then survive. It can help identify vulnerable regions based on different features such as pressure systems, fault lines and other climatic features. People living in vulnerable regions can also have financial preparedness for such disasters in case they are displaced. According to a World Bank analysis natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty every single year. Rich people have their resources scattered as money in savings account in financial institutions which are nowadays generally electronic in medium, whereas poor people have their resources stored with them in form of livestock and therefore concentrated in their homes during a natural disaster, all of this can be simply lost in haste for saving their lives which clearly comes first because life is more precious than material belongings. Prediction of such calamities and pre-intimation can help save such people whose resources are located mostly in physical form from being pushed below the poverty line and having a means for sustenance and continuance of life.

Another main reason for poverty is when a person has is self employed, but does not have a way of scaling their business further and during this period of economic inflation, stagnancy at an income level is also a reason for pushing people into poverty. For instance, those in the business of catching fish and selling those to make a living had no means to find efficient spots where they could collect a huge lot at one place, it's purely luck and known hotspots but they couldn’t access the resources of the regions which hadn’t been identified as hotspots. Potentially, space technology can help in identifying such hotspots. Indian Space Research Organisation has developed a resource known as Potential Fishing Zone available through the INCOIS platform which stands for Indian National Centre for Oceanic Information Services. A remote sensing satellite essentially monitors the chlorophyll content over the Ocean that lies in the India EEZ, Chlorophyll is the pigment present in plants which means where there is chlorophyll there are plants and hence all kinds of fish have to present like a breeding ground. Providing these locations to the fisherman can help them increase the productivity. More fishing can aid more food for humans thus more supply means less price and that ensures supply of food to all and also ensures a good earning for the fisherman.

In a similar fashion, space imagery can be used to increase productivity of productivity by analysis of the potential and ideal means for setting up of industries. Satellite imagery can identify the amount of water in the soil through the microwaves reflected off the surface, nutrient through spectral analysis. Through analysis and identification of soil type, general climatic conditions in the area and also through the analysis of topology of soil through SAR analysis, machine learning algorithm can predict and suggest the farmer which crops will profitable in the region. Satellite analysis can also predict the weather conditions, which can be used by the farmers to take any precautionary methods. Good harvest shall ensure high production thus ample supply for the whole population which in turn shall prevent poverty.

Below is an image of the Asia's largest slum, Dharavi from Mumbai. In such a populated area basic resources can be scarce and mapping such areas and comparing with the map of basic services can give an idea of how well access do the needy people living here have to basic services. This data can be used by NGOs and government in planning such basic services for these people.