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We believe that creative innovations and technological solutions offer an accelerated and cost-efficient means to delivering productivity and welfare enhancing services to the drylands. We have focused our efforts around solutions that leverage remotely sensed information and exploit the growing potential of digital and mobile-based platforms.  These technologies help us build tailored solutions, such as IBLI and digital micro-tasking application for crowdsourcing data, that release the key limiting constraints dryland populations face.  They also allow us to generate data and disseminate information more effectively and to monitor and assess and range of activities and outcomes more efficiently.

Remote sensing and digital agriculture for dryland ecology and food security

Our aim is developing and implementing innovative multi-scale remote sensing methods for rangeland assessment and monitoring, drought early warning and index-insurance, and household food security outcomes modelling in order to increase our understanding of pastoral systems dynamics at local, regional and global level and support better planning, more effective decision making and improved food security in extensive pastoral areas.


Focus areas

  • Regional-scale drought assessment and monitoring

  • High resolution Land Surface Phenology (Kapiti farm)

  • Land use/land cover (changes) mapping in drylands

  • Monitoring rangeland restoration interventions

  • Remote sensing-based modelling of household welfare

  • Climate-smart livestock 

  • Training & Capacity development

Main Projects

Team members & collaborators

  • Francesco Fava (Senior scientist)

  • Njoki Kahiu (Remote Sensing Specialist)

  • Mohammed Shibia (Ph.D candidate, University of Trier & ILRI)

  • Anton Vrieling (Assistant Professor, University of Twente)

Drone Over the Mountains

Agicultural Index-insurance product design & disaster risk finance 

With the goal of supporting disaster early response/early action backed by early finance, we aim at designing the next generation of  agricultural/livestock index-insurance products and multi-layered drought risk finance approaches by exploring cutting-edge technologies and methods, while understanding key operational and financial requirements for effective implementation and uptake. 


Focus Areas

  • Index-based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) design 

  • Sovereign insurance pool and early drought response mechanisms

  • Minimum standards and quality assurance for index-insurance

  • Drought vulnerability and impact modelling

  • Capacity development & certification

Main Projects

Team Members & Collaborators

  • Francesco Fava (Senior Environmental Scientist)

  • Nathaniel Jensen (Scientist - Economist)

  • Njoki Kahiu (Remote Sensing Specialist)

  • Quentin Stoeffler (Assistant Professor, Istanbul Technical University)

  • Michael Carter (Full Professor, UC Davis)


Crowdsourcing platforms for enhanced data collection, processing & dissemination

Access to accurate and timely information is critical for all decision-making, from the pastoralist deciding if it time to migrate, to policy maker looking for evidence with which to assess the impacts of recent policy changes. Unfortunately, few public data bases exist and conventional approaches to local data collection and dissemination are expensive and difficult.  We aim to address this information gap by eliminating most of these costs through directed crowdsourcing. Leveraging ICT and utilizing persons in situ, we have developed a suite of tools to direct individuals on when, where, and how to collect and submit information. That information is then processed and disseminated to a variety of stakeholders including the contributors themselves, government offices, and researchers.

Focus Areas

  • Livestock markets

  • Young child nutrition and health

  • Local assessments of rangeland conditions

Main Projects

Team Members & Collaborators

  • Nathaniel Jensen (Scientist - Economist)

  • Francesco Fava (Senior Environmental Scientist)

  • Philemon Chelanga (Ph.D. student, JKU of Agriculture & Technology)

  • Oscar Naibei (Research Associate)

  • Vincent Alulu (Research Associate)


Digital tools for extension and support services

As our Index-Based Livestock Insurance program began to gain traction and there was increasing interest among stakeholders to scale beyond our initial pilot areas, it became rapidly clear that one of the factors limiting scale was the cost of equipping insurance and extension agents with the knowledge and tools they needed to effectively market and sell IBLI to pastoralists.  More generally, the costs of delivering private or public services to the typically remote and sparsely populated drylands are typically prohibitive, so any solution that would drastically cut the cost and increase the efficiency of delivering foundational support services would be broadly beneficial.  Our solution, necessary to support efficient scaling of IBLI and to secure widespread sustainable provision, was to develop a suite of digital tools targeting extension and agency support services; these range from internet and mobile learning applications and games, to mobile based sales transactions platforms and information dissemination tools.


Focus Areas

  • Build on and standardize the range of digital IBLI learning and extension tools,

  • Mobile based analytical tools aimed and assessing learning and agency performance.

  • Test various models of incentivizing learning and information provision.


Main Projects

Team Members & Collaborators

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