KORE - Knowledge Sharing Platform on Resilience

Using unmanned aerial vehicles to improve post-disaster assessment and validation of agricultural damages in the Philippines

Enhancing monitoring for disaster resilience, preparedness and response in a context prone to hydro-meteorological hazards
16/04/2020

The Philippines ranks fourth among the world’s most disaster-prone countries. The archipelago’s over 7,000 islands lie in the path of the most active typhoon generator in the world, as well as in perilous proximity to the Pacific Ocean’s volcano-filled, earthquake-plagued pathway known as the Ring of Fire. Around twenty typhoons hit the country on average each year, producing devastating storm surges and enacting heavy losses to the communities and industries in their wake.

The agriculture and fisheries sector, which contributes about a tenth of the Philippines’ gross domestic product, bears among the highest damages due to disasters, averaging USD 477 million annually from 2006 to 2013.  While the assessment of agricultural damages is vital and necessary, the conventional method involving manual validation can often take months, and also suffers from inaccuracies and subjective influence. This lengthy process results in delays and the misdirection of timely recovery support to the affected farmers wanting to resume their livelihoods quickly. When reports are delivered late, farming communities may be forced to forego potential income until the next planting season, making prolonged responses even more detrimental when implemented outside the usual seasonal cropping cycles.

In 2015, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) collaborated to pilot an unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)-based methodology for pre- and post-disaster assessment in the Bicol and Davao Regions in order to mainstream innovative ways to enhance Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the agriculture sector. As of 2019, all DA- Regional Field Offices (RFOs) are equipped and capable of operating fixed-wing or multi-rotor UAVs, which have been used in numerous areas affected by disasters. This good practice fact sheet looks at how UAVs contribute to strengthening disaster resilience in the Philippines.

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