Africa has become the world’s first continent to complete the collection of comprehensive, accurate, and harmonized digital use data and land-use change data under the Africa Open DEAL Initiative, under which DEAL stands for Data for the Environment, Agriculture, and Land Initiative.
The initiative of data collection and analysis was led by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and the African Union Commission.
At the virtual launch of the initiative on July 13, 2021, FAO and AUC informed that the Africa OPEN Deal Initiative has made Africa the first continent to complete the collection of comprehensive, harmonized, and accurate digital land use and land-use change data.
The open data initiative of FAO and AUC that covered the period between 2018 and 2020, has disclosed more forests and arable lands than were previously detected.
Africa Open DEAL Initiative: Key Highlights of the survey
7 billion more trees and more arable lands in Africa-
The continent-wide survey revealed that there are around 7 billion trees outside forests in Africa and more arable lands in the continent than before.
Collect Earth Software-
Collect Earth, free and open-source software developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, was used to collect data from Google Earth.
It is part of the tools called Open Foris and was developed in the year 2017 in collaboration with Bing Maps, Google Earth, and Google Earth Engine.
• The survey covered 100 parameters on each sampling point of about 0.5 hectares. It also included tree counts, wildfires, farmlands, and existing infrastructure.
• The data from the survey were analyzed to highlight the land-use change in the past 20 years and the potential for restoration at the national level for every country in the continent.
• The key initiative also revealed that 350 million hectares of cropland are cultivated in Africa. This is an increase by 25% over the cropland in the continent. In the year 2018, 279 million hectares of cropland were cultivated in Africa.
Why it is significant?
The initiative shows that science and innovation can provide real solutions. It also indicates that collaboration and pooling experience can lead to the best results.
FAO’s Assistant director-general and regional representative for Africa said that the information received from the African Open Deal Initiative can also help in the fight against hunger in Africa.