Space4SDG2: Zero Hunger

Published by- Joy Agrawal on 27/05/2021

Malnutrition occurs when a person does not get the required nutrition or the right balance of nutritions in order to live with an optimal health. According to a survey in 2015, 8.9% of the world’s population is undernourished. Hunger in developing countries is due to famines, poverty or increased cost due transportation and infertility of soil. Farmers in developing countries due to illiteracy farm anywhere they have availability of cheap land.

Land is a major factor in agriculture, polluted soil can lead complete crop failure or damage to crops. Instead, if proper surveys would have been conducted then it wouldn’t have lead to increase in prices due scarcity of crop pushing the population into Hunger and malnutrition. Remote sensing soil profiling is a proposed way of monitoring the purity of cultivable land through hyper spectral imaging. Efficient farming on cultivable fertile soil can aid in better yield which in turn ensures availability for all.

Soil nutrient map of Sub-saharan Africa

Famines can be detrimental in public health especially in developing countries who have huge population and getting them aid from national funds can take time or simply they don’t have enough money. Tech giants Google, Microsoft and AWS have come together along with United Nations, World Bank and International Committee of the Red Cross to develop the Famine Action Mechanism in order to predict Famines from different sources including satellite imagery. This mechanism will be used to trigger financial security mechanisms for the affected.

How does this work?

Tech giants from google to AWS to Microsoft are developing a tool known as Artemis which is a machine learning model which ranges from analysing data from satellites to mobile phones and to social media. Reasons for famine range from crop failure to climatic reaons and also inflation and other social reasons. Artemis uses the data from the various sources to understand the dynamics of inflation, general income, sentiment analysis and majorly satellite imagery analyse the weather and crop status to guage the possiblity of a famine. Detection of the graph tipping towards a famine as detected by Artemis shall trigger the Famine Action Mechanism and in turn activating the financial aid mechanism. Role of space technology is to monitor crop health and also predict weather changes so necessary measures can be taken to protect the harvest. This one is more sophisticated version through collaboration of these companies of the Famine Early Warning System by United States of America International Development. This uses satellite imagery and government available data sets but the new version that is Artemis uses everything from sentinments of people to satellite imagery to predict climate and also government data through the partnership between private tech giants and UN organisations and the World Bank. Also this system is limited to certain areas. Artemis and FAM are supposed to be internationally governed mechanisms for international prediction.

Irrigation mapping can also aid in enhancing crop production. Surface of Earth is so vast that there can be many small water canals that may or not have been discovered by the modern farmers. Satellite technology can help in identification of these resources which are hidden in plain sight, detection of water canals can help in better irrigation of the crops that can help in better chances of crop sustainability for harvesting.

Water has a distictive signature when seen through a Synthetic Aperature Radar which emits microwaves and recieves them after reflection from the surface of Earth to analyse the terrain that is plot the points in a 3D space. Water till a certain extent absorbs these microwaves thus a dark patch is seen where there is water. SAR emits millions of individual rays every second at different angles, this can tear through the forestry and reflect back, this is why this is used to identify hidden water bodies or "rivulets". These hidden water bodies can be used for identifying water bodies and map out the water bodies which can be used to create canals for farmlands where there was no known water body and dependent on rains especially in a country like India.

Irrigation Map from Satellite Remote Sensing

Famine detection shall help in acquiring financial security for these people in the time of distress for these people which shall help ensure food security.

Together with better irrigation and land nutrition mapping can help farmers increasing yields and reducing chances of crop failure to support huge populations in developing countries in order to eliminate hunger as the SDG2 by 2030.