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Caribou Space have launched this website and blog, supported by the UK Space Agency, to bridge the space and development worlds.

This website provides a unified view of the knowledge, initiatives and community using space for development benefits.

We hope you find it useful.

International Partnership Programme at UK Space Conference



The IPP team would like to highlight the upcoming UK Space Conference being held from the 24th to 26th September at the ICC in Wales.

The UK Space Conference is well established as the most important and influential event for space in the UK. For the fifth time, this biennial event will bring together the UK and international space community from across government, industry and academia to exchange ideas, share plans, develop relationships and seek inspiration to thrive in the new space age. 

The conference will again provide unrivalled networking opportunities and build on the success of Manchester 2017 where 1,200 representatives and over 100 exhibitors took part. 

In addition to opportunities throughout to engage with organisations involved in IPP projects, two sessions dedicated to international development are scheduled: a ‘Space 101’ on IPP on Tuesday 24 September (0900-0930) and a parallel session on ‘How space is enabling international development’ on Thursday 26 September (1350-1430). 

See the programme here: https://www.ukspace2019.co.uk/ehome/200183909/whats-on/.

The conference will be well represented by individuals and organisations involved with the International Partnership Programme. We hope to showcase the successes of our programme and highlight the potential which space technology can offer to the development sector.

We look forward to seeing many of you there.

D-MOSS – Dengue MOdel forecasting Satellite-based System



D-MOSS is a dengue fever early warning system for Vietnam being developed by a consortium led by HR Wallingford and sponsored by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme. It will give beneficiaries several months advance warning of likely outbreaks of dengue fever. The system will also include a water assessment module that will provide the additional benefit of improving water management in Vietnam’s transboundary river basins.

D-MOSS will be the first fully integrated dengue fever forecasting system incorporating Earth Observation (EO) data and seasonal climate forecasts to issue dengue warnings on a routine basis.

The challenge : Before 1970 only nine countries had experienced severe dengue epidemics. Today the disease is endemic in 141 countries, affecting 390 million people and with a global annual cost estimated at almost US$9 billion. Since 2000, there has been an increase of over 100% in the number of cases of dengue fever in Vietnam, and there is currently no system for forecasting future dengue outbreaks.

Our objective: Our objective is to develop a suite of innovative tools that will allow beneficiaries to: issue alerts for dengue and provide assessments of vector-borne disease risk under future climate and land‑use change scenarios. This will allow local communities to mobilise to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites thus reducing incidents of dengue. In combination with better outbreak response, we expect the project to contribute towards a reduction in dengue incidence over the project lifetime.

Our approach: The D-MOSS project is developing a forecasting system in which Earth Observation datasets are combined with weather forecasts and a hydrological model to predict the likelihood of future dengue epidemics up to eight months in advance. The D-MOSS system relies on open and non-proprietary software, where possible, and on a component-based flexible deployment into a set of platforms including cloud-based virtual storage. The D-MOSS project started in February 2018 and will end in February 2021. At the end of June 2019 we will be delivering D-MOSS version 1.0 to the Vietnamese stakeholders.

Project consortium : D-MOSS is funded by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme and led by HR Wallingford, working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the UK Met Office and Oxford Policy Management in the UK, and with the following international partners: the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organisation, the Vietnamese Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change, the Pasteur Institute Ho Chi Minh City, and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Vietnam.

For a more detailed description of the project see here: http://eprints.hrwallingford.co.uk/1719/1/TP-059_D-MOSS-EGU-2019-R1.pdf

Speaking at the D-MOSS launch event that took place in Hanoi on the 19th March 2019, Mr Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator said “Given the significant correlation between weather factors and dengue incidence, a combination of water availability forecasting and dengue outbreak prediction enabled by satellite technology is a great innovation. The project we are launching today is exciting in that it leverages global and local expertise from across disciplines and continents to harness data and experience to create early-warning systems and analytic tools that can help Viet Nam’s health systems roll-back dengue’s impacts both today and in the future.

The UK is an innovation powerhouse. Space technology is one of our strongest sectors and I am very pleased to see the UK Space Agency and partners introduce a novel and innovative tool to help Viet Nam to predict and respond to dengue outbreaks more confidently and efficiently. This project is evidence of the strong and continued commitment of the UK to support Viet Nam to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals”, highlighted by Mr Gareth Ward, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

Darren Lumbroso, D-MOSS Project Director from HR Wallingford, said: “We are delighted to be leading this ground-breaking project where, for the first time, an Earth Observation-based forecasting system will allow decision makers to identify areas of high risk for disease epidemics before an outbreak occurs, in order to target resources so as to reduce an epidemic spreading and to increase disease control“.

Attending the launching workshop, Ms H ‘Yim Kdoh, Vice Chairman of Dak Lak Provincial People’s Committee said, “The development of an early warning system for dengue will help the province to plan and prepare resources to be ready for better respond to the disease. This is also the expectation of the health sector, the Steering Committee for Disease Prevention and the Provincial People’s Committee“.

D-Moss Consortium Meeting in Vietnam

Monitoring Tailing Dams at Mines using Earth Observation



Members of the International Partnership Programme travelled to Peru recently to visit one of their IPP projects which is looking at how satellite technology can be used to monitor Tailings Dams in the highlands of Peru.

But what are tailings dams?

Tailings are the residual material leftover from the mining process and are often toxic and a major pollution threat. This material is stored behind a tailings damuntil the mining process is over and the land can be terraformed. The problem is that these dams are often unstable and prone to leaking pollutants and potential collapse. This risk was realised in the January 2019 when a tailings dam in Brazil collapsed leading to the tragic death of nearly 250 people.


Liz Cox (Head of International in IPP) at the project site where the ground sensors shown will detect potential movement in the dam

The UK Space Agency was in Peru to visit the DAMSAT project led by HR Wallingford. This project is using satellite radar and optical data with ground Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) sensors to monitor movements in these dams. Their intention is to create a tool which will give advance warning to the authorities, allowing them to take pre-emptive action when required. Further details can be seen on this video recently produced by HR Wallingford.

A key objective of this visit was to meet with all the project partners and the key stakeholders in Peru. The IPP team were also involved with a press conference in the Cajamarca region of Peru were the work is working. Mining is a significant part of the economy in Cajamarca and the IPP team were glad to see enthusiasm and engagement from our in-country partners. There is clearly a need for the project’s objectives and potential for positive impacts.

The project has issued a first release of its system which is being reviews by the project partners and stakeholders. By the end of the project in March of 2021 they intend on having be a fully operational system, able to monitor industrial tailings dams remotely and alert the relevant authorities to heighted risk and the areas of potential impact.

This project is one of three projects in Peru, with IPP having a total of 33 projects working in 37 countries, working on a range of issues. See our website for more details on these projects around the world.

Earth and Sea Observation System (EASOS)



At the outset of the EASOS project, the Satellite Applications Catapult, with a consortium of companies from both the UK and Malaysia, set out to provide an informed and coordinated decision-making capability to the Malaysian Government.  The information that EASOS would provide covered three focus areas:

  1. the reduction of degradation to the mangrove coastline by reducing marine pollution in the Malacca Straits,
  2. the reduction of the impact of illegal logging,
  3. and the reduction of the economic and social cost of flood events.

As the project closes, EASOS has developed a highly automated, replicable system that works across these three domains and can be scaled across multiple countries. The Marine Watch, Forest Watch and Flood Watch domains are tested, live and being used to support government decision making in these three vital areas.

It has already enjoyed success in many real-life situations including earlier this year, when EASOS Marine Watch automatically detected two separate oil slicks off the coast of Malaysia’s Johor district.  The detections helped to speed up the clean-up response of the marine authorities, and whilst work continues to estimate the likely financial and environmental benefit from just one of these averted environmental disasters, early estimates based on impact to fisheries, tourism, the marine ecosystem and clean-up along 13km of coastline could have exceeded RM 8m/£1.5m.

Oil Slick Detection in EASOS Marine Watch

EASOS Flood Watch also provided support to operational management of flooding events during the 2017-18 monsoon season, and EASOS services have been delivered daily by the Satellite Applications Catapult directly to the Malaysian authorities and have aided decisions to evacuate people from their homes on four separate occasions as a result of accurate alerts generated by EASOS.

EASOS has also significantly impacted UK organisations, enabling them to develop new products and services, and is set to grow the economy further due to investments made by the Catapult in exploring increasing geographic scope outside of the initial areas of interest in Malaysia, opening up EASOS to other new potential suppliers and providing an access to new international distributors.

For more information on the ongoing work of the EASOS project, visit www.easos.org.uk

UK Space Agency IPP – Vivid Economics in Côte d’Ivoire



At the current rate of deforestation, Côte d’Ivoire could lose its entire forest cover by 2034. Despite forests becoming rare, deforestation rates remain high, and the remaining 3-4 million hectares of forest are mainly threatened by the allocation of more land to agriculture. The country is the world’s largest supplier of cocoa, with most production coming from smallholder, low productivity farmers, particularly in the southwest region, home to much of the country’s remaining forest resources.

As part of the International Partnership Programme (IPP), UKSA have funded a project with Vivid Economics which seeks to increase rural economic growth; increase the sustainability of, and producer participation in global supply chains; and enable maximum-impact reforestation in Côte d’Ivoire through the use of satellite-based information.

The aim is to drive two outcomes: improved monitoring and enforcement efforts that prevent forest loss and prioritise afforestation and better-targeted support to local economic development and sustainable supply chains through payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes.

These two outcomes will be achieved with three foundational tools (called IMAGES) developed by Vivid Economics: a land use inventory, a natural capital valuation framework, and an early warning system that can monitor and anticipate deforestation. All three tools represent substantial improvements upon what is currently available, but the real benefit of the project lies in their combination and close integration into policy and regulatory activity. 

The project started in January 2017 and in November 2018 the operational system was officially adopted by and handed over to the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Development and Planning at a ceremony in Abidjan. 

During the visit the UKSA and Vivid teams also travelled to the Cavally forest area in the South East of the country and saw the forest rangers from SODEFOR using the IMAGES system to identify areas of illegal cocoa planting that they wouldn’t have found without using the alerts from the system, demonstrating the operational effectiveness of the tool.

The next steps in the project are that the system will hopefully be rolled out to cover the whole country and will be adopted by other Ministries to help them with their planning.

The IPP programme has a number of projects working to make an impact on deforestation (more details can be found here www.spacefordevelopment.org) and Caribou Space, the UKSA’s M&E partner, have written a report on how space technology has a critical role to play in addressing major challenges within forestry in emerging and developing economies (forestry report here).

UK Space Agency IPP – Advanced Coffee Crop Optimisation for Rural Development (ACCORD)



Coffee farms and washing station, Rulindo region, Rwanda

ACCORD, led by Earth-i and co-funded from the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), uses satellite-enabled data to improve the livelihoods and incomes of smallholder coffee farmers. In November 2018, the IPP team travelled to Rwanda to meet with the international partners who help deliver the project’s impacts.

Coffee is a crucial global commodity. With sales of coffee increasing around the world, the income of many of farmers is tied to the quality, as well as the quantity of the coffee they produce. Earth-i’s ACCORD project uses earth observation data to help farmers make timely, important decisions about crops with greater certainty than traditional methods. This supports the sustainability of coffee as a cash crop for smallholder farmers, and therefore their livelihoods, by enabling them to deliver a more reliable harvest of higher quality coffee.

November’s visit was an opportunity for the IPP team to meet with the project’s consortium partners to review the progress of the project so far, hear input from all the partners and discuss the next steps for the project.

During our visit, we met with three coffee companies who are actively involved in ACCORD; Kinini, Coffee management Service (CMS) and San Francisco Bay Coffee Company (SFBC). Their expertise and local knowledge ensure the project delivers real and positive impacts to the smallholder farmers using the technology.

Rwanda is a small country and 84% of it is covered with farming plots.  More than three-fifths of families working as farmers each cultivate less than 0.7 hectares. The ACCORD project has reached over 20,000 plots in both Rwanda and Kenya, with the intention to reach 50,000 small farming plots by the end of the project.

ACCORD is just one of many IPP projects using space-enabled data to support agriculture in developing countries.  This report by Caribou Space outlines why and how the space technology has a critical role to play in addressing major challenges within agriculture in emerging and developing economies.

A small coffee plot being mapped as part of the ACCORD project in Cyangugu region
Coffee drying beds and washing station in Cyangugu region

UK Space Agency IPP – A property database in Dakar City, Senegal



UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme has 33 IPP projects across 33 countries, with 122 private sector, academic and NGO organisations consortiums members and 112 international partners. See more details on the IPP projects here.

Dakar has a population estimated at 1.2 million with a rapid growth rate of 4%. The city is built on a peninsula with very little remaining land for urban development and so a lot of development is upwards. Due to lack of records and poor tax base identification only about 15% of the potential tax is currently collected. The challenge, therefore, is to support the city to generate the municipal revenue required to fund further urban services and infrastructure.

Figure 1: Dakar on a peninsula

The solution provided compares very high-resolution stereo imagery from the Pléiades satellites acquired on different dates. The imagery consists of an optical image as well as a height component (Digital Surface Model) to enable change detection of building growth (both horizontally and vertically). Therefore, for each land parcel, indicators of change identified in the satellite imagery will assist in the city’s land administration process and in particular to enable the Operational Maintenance of a Property Database to support property tax revenues.

Figure 2: 3D visualisation of building growth in Dakar

Airbus was successful in proving that the solution could map areas of property change in Dakar with a potential for generating around €73 million annual tax revenue for Dakar. Airbus is continuing discussions with the national government for funding an expansion of the service in Dakar and other Senegalese cities. Airbus has identified interest from other African cities including Accra, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Abidjan and Kampala.

In October 2018 the UK Space Agency and Caribou Space visited Dakar with Airbus. A multi-stakeholder workshop was hosted with a range of government organisations, including representatives from: the Ministry of Economics, Finance and Planning (including the principal stakeholders: the Cadastre Unit of the General Directorate of Taxes and Lands (DGID)); the Ministry of Higher Education and Research; the Municipal Development Agency; the National Mapping Directorate, which is part of the Agency for Spatial Planning; the State Informatics Agency; and, the Executive Council of Urban Transport in Dakar. A separate ministerial briefing with the Ministry of Higher Education and Research was supported by the British Ambassador to Senegal and, finally, a wrap-up was held with senior staff from DGID.

UK Space Agency IPP – HR Wallingford Tailings Dams Peru



UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme has 33 IPP projects across 33 countries, with 122 private sector, academic and NGO organisations consortiums members and 112 international partners. See more details on the IPP projects here.

A project with HR Wallingford is working to resolve is the issue of unstable and unsafe tailings dams in Peru. Tailings dams are earth embankments used to store toxic mine waste and effluent which can be more than 100m high. They are often constructed with steep slopes using the residual tailings to save on costs.

Their rate of failure is high, owing to inadequate design regulations and less rigorous construction methods than for normal water retaining dams. This can threaten populations downstream and adversely affect sensible environments. The rate of tailings dam failures is seen to be increasing, with 49% of serious tailings dam failures in the last 70 years occurring between 1990 and 2010 (Bowker and Chambers, 2015). Tailings dams often contain hazardous substances that can contaminate food chains and drinking water.

Funded by the UK Space Agency, HR Wallingford are working with a consortium from across the UK and Peru. The solution combines satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) interferometry and real-time Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) with a goal of achieving a high level of automation for dam monitoring. This technique will be less expensive and require less expertise to employ than existing monitoring. This tool will give government agencies the ability to monitor larger numbers of dams across remote regions and allow them to take proactive action and intervene.

During a recent visit to the UK from our Peruvian partners, the UK Space Agency was happy to host a meeting with representatives from Universidad Nacional de Cajamarca: Escuela de Ingeniería Hidráulica, Facultad de Ingeniería (National University of Cajamarca, School ofHydraulic Engineering and Faculty of Engineering), Fundación Nacional de Ingeniería Hidráulica (National Foundation for Hydraulic Engineering) and CIEMAM.

The UK Space Agency highly values the input of our international partners in our projects. Working with our Peruvian counterparts is essential for understanding the local context and the nature of the challenge. We value their expertise and commitment to the project.

More details on this project can be seen at – https://tailingsdams.info/

References: Bowker, L.N.  and Chambers, D.M. (2015) The risk, public liability, and economics of tailings storage facility failures

SatSummit 2018 – Satellite Data for Global Development



David Taverner of Caribou Space presented for UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme at SatSummit 2018.

SatSummit convenes leaders in the satellite industry and experts in global development for in-depth conversations on solving the world’s most critical development challenges with satellite data. From climate change to population growth to natural resource availability, earth observation data offers insights into today’s biggest global issues.

The benefits of space for agriculture were presented, including:

  • Increase production through decision support tools and affordability of credit
  • Improve supply chain efficiency to reduce losses
  • Sustainable management of environmental resources and supply chain traceability
  • Resilience to climate change through accuracy of early warning systems and affordability of insurance

The forecast impacts of IPP’s agricultural portfolio were also presented, including:

  • Six projects (~£21M), in 8 countries, for potatoes, grapes, bananas, wheat, sugarcane, coffee, rice & palm oil
  • 3-5% yield gain for 5,000 farmers. One project aiming to double yields for 25,000 farmers
  • 5-25% increase in insurance penetration and 10% decrease in premiums, improving resilience to climate change
  • Improving efficiency and reducing losses from pests, disease, drought and floods
  • 1M hectares of land under sustainable management

Further information on the role of space and IPP programme’s efforts global agricultural challenges are available in this report: Space for Agriculture in Developing Countries.