Project in Detail
More than two billion people who live in dry areas which constitutes 41% of the world’s land surface are affected by droughts. South Asian countries have been among the perennially drought-prone regions of the world. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have reported droughts at least once in every 3 years in the past five decades, while Bangladesh and Nepal also suffer from frequent droughts.

The South Asian Drought Monitoring System or SADMS provides customized tools and models that use satellite technology to accurately and scientifically monitor and plan for droughts. SADMS supports planners in countries in the South Asian region, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

A first-of-its-kind collaborative program to build greater resilience to drought, reducing its impact on societies and economies.

What can SADMS do?
  • Develop a drought monitoring system and tools to provide near real-time, current drought characteristics, impacts and management plans at a national, sub-national and regional level
  • Increase awareness of the economic and social value of drought risk management
  • Enhance technical and managerial capability at national level to plan and cope with droughts
  • Build national capacity by providing regional training programs on drought risk management

  • A prototype regional drought monitoring system for South Asia (SADMS) was developed in 2015 with funding from the World Meteorological Organizations (WMO), Global Water Partnership (GWP), CGIAR’s consolidated research program of CCAFS (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Japan which is being led by International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Sri Lanka. It was meant to serve as an illustration of capabilities provided by remote sensing data for drought monitoring and as an example that may be replicated (and developed further) in other regions. The system uses an on-line remote sensing database to monitor drought development through continuous assessment of the condition of ground vegetation. It operates at the fine level of spatial resolution (0.5 km X 0.5 km) and in near-real time, whereby new data can be added every 8 days.

    Users of the system can:
  • Explore the spatial condition of ground vegetation throughout south Asia region, at the level of specific districts in respective countries and at the level of specific pixels of 0.5 by 0.5 km. The default spatial image shows the distribution of drought condition over a district, sub-district administrative boundaries if any exist and some landmarks, including rivers/canals, roads and or settlements. A similar approach is followed for other drought indices.
  • The Integrated Drought Severity Index (IDSI) calculations integrate satellite-based observations of vegetation conditions and climate data and other biophysical information such as land cover/land use type, topography and river basin details.
  • Create the on-line time-series graphs of drought-related vegetation characteristics and study the deviation of those from the long-term mean for a district or pixel. The graphs can be built for a time period selected by the user, allowing the developing deficits of vegetation density and vigor to be detected and quantified on-line. Once the district is selected on the front page of the DMS, the default time series graph appears showing the long-term average Vegetation Condition Index (VCI), Temperature Condition Index (TCI), Precipitation Condition Index (PCI) and the current VCI, TCI and PCI time series. The start of the plotting period can be interactively selected at this point and the time series graph re-plotted. Similarly, other indices can be examined at this stage by clicking the appropriate link on the screen and accessing the on-line database.
  • Download images of drought indices “IDSI” or “SPI” for South Asia for inclusion in various reports or presentations. These images may be previewed before downloading.
  • Learn about the use of remote sensing data and indices for drought monitoring as well as about system operation through on-line Help facilities.
  • Link to other drought monitoring web sites

  • Drought monitoring systems like this, can now be developed with even more resolute RS data. It is envisaged that such systems could benefit government agencies, research institutions, insurance industry and NGOs involved in drought management and may be a valuable addition to decision support tools. Additional developments of such systems may include the use of other datasets (soil moisture, evapotranspiration), many other drought-related indices, provision of targeted warning messages that suit specific requirements of individual countries, etc. This calls for collaborative action and for input from relevant national agencies. The principles, on which the system is based, are generic and can be reproduced nationally, or regionally.
    Asia's Drought Disasters (1980 and 2015) Key facts
  • Number of drought events: 117
  • Total number of people killed: 5,308
  • Population affected: 1.3 billion
  • Total damages: USD 37.43 billion
  • Major drought events: 1987, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2014
  • Source: EM-DAT 2015.