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Remote sensing: monitoring the Cash for Work Programme. Information factsheet

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In order to enhance its capacity to observe large swathes of territory on a regular basis, as well as viewing otherwise inaccessible areas, SWALIM developed a remote monitoring system using remotely sensed data. Remote Sensing (RS) is the ability to capture and analyse information from the earth’s surface from a distance. The system was developed in large part to address the issue of lack of access due to insecurity.

The initial objective was to ensure accountability for FAO’s programme beneficiaries after the 2011 famine, following which FAO provided cash to communities in return for rehabilitation of productive infrastructure. SWALIM uses multi-temporal VHR images to capture the “before and after” status of infrastructure sites for verification purposes. This enables payments to be made for work done by communities, without expensive (and often dangerous) on-site assessments. The high accuracy images used allow for up to 50 cm spatial resolution, so any change in surroundings or infrastructure can be easily detected. Because of this innovation, SWALIM was able to facilitate cash payments of some 50 million dollars to vulnerable  communities throughout Somalia.

The objective of this good practice fact sheet is to provide guidance on using remote sensing technology in a developing country environment, in particular to verify infrastructure rehabilitation. The document explores how the technology can be used to monitor improvements made as part of a Cash for Work programme, providing accountability to donors. It also highlights the benefits to local communities, through increased employment opportunities and restoration of critical productive assets that can help them to enhance their livelihoods.

The Somalia Water and Land Information Management project (SWALIM) is one of the few UN development programmes to have information management as its primary mission, using technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing and data collection with mobile devices and modern web applications. Managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), SWALIM has been able to successfully introduce various technological innovations to benefit communities dependent on fragile land and water resources, despite the extremely challenging environment of Somalia.

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