J-PAL joins new partnership for data-driven early response to hunger

Group of people with livestock
Photo: Abdelrahman Hassanein | Shutterstock.com

Leading research and humanitarian agencies have joined forces to harness data and technology in a bid to stop climate shocks resulting in hunger in vulnerable livestock farming communities.

The Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action is being created to help tackle the growing threat to people in the world’s drylands posed by the increasing severity and frequency of climate-related disasters.

The new venture will bring together the expertise of five partners–the University of Edinburgh, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Save the Children, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and Community Jameel. The partnership will connect cutting-edge technology and data surveillance on early warning signs of severe weather and systemic climate change with community-driven applications and interventions.

Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director at J-PAL, said, “Climate change is the defining problem of this century. We are honored to join this partnership and support investments in rigorous evaluation and evidence-informed decision-making to help ensure that people on the frontlines of climate impacts and experiencing poverty are not left behind.”

The Jameel Observatory will engage with agencies that work with farmers to develop and apply digital and analytical tools that help them shape their own food security, nutrition, and livelihoods. Researchers plan to use community-level data together with satellites, drones, weather data, and remote sensing to understand, prepare for, and mitigate the likely impact of climate shocks.

The Jameel Observatory’s first project aims to fill the evidence gaps that currently prevent effective forecast-based action to protect children and their families’ livelihoods and nutrition in parts of East Africa.

George Richards, Director of Community Jameel, said, “Evidence and data are keys to unlocking effective responses to the threat of climate change on vulnerable communities. The Jameel Observatory’s approach will enable a shift from reacting to the climate crisis to data-driven anticipation and adaptation, helping to find better solutions to the challenge of food insecurity. We are honored to be supporting the launch of this center of excellence, and to offer Community Jameel’s experience in developing and mobilizing partnerships that unite world-leading scientific expertise with locally tailored action to tackle this urgent issue.”

As the world turns its attention to the UN Food Systems Summit and COP26, there is a sharp focus on the need to be fully prepared for the vulnerabilities, shocks, and stresses triggered by changing climate. Drylands, which are home to billions and make up 40 percent of the world’s land area, are at risk from fluctuating rainfall, drought, rising temperatures, and land degradation. These create insecurity and conflict caused by competition for resources. By the time the full force of these crises is felt and hunger takes hold it is often too late to respond effectively, experts say.

Each partner will bring specific insights to the work of the Jameel Observatory:

  • The University of Edinburgh will use its expertise in data-driven innovation to combine data, information, and local knowledge to better predict climate risks, encourage coordinated actions, and guide interventions.
  • The Jameel Observatory will be based at the International Livestock Research Institute in East Africa. ILRI works with hundreds of partners throughout the continent and is home to the Mazingira Centre and other projects focused on food security and environmental research in drylands. 
  • Save the Children has been working to tackle hunger and malnutrition in some of the toughest places in the world for 100 years. The aid agency brings a wealth of practical and programmatic experience supporting communities to respond, prepare and adapt. Save the Children is committed to strengthening forecast-based action to food crises using tools like the Household Economic Analysis to predict the impacts of climate shocks on vulnerable families.
  • The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab is an evaluation and knowledge partner and will connect Jameel Observatory with teams of researchers to help assess the initiative’s interventions. J-PAL will also share evidence on effective climate change and adaptation programs from existing experimental evaluation literature.
  • Community Jameel is an international organization tackling some of the world’s most urgent issues and challenges, with action and solutions based on evidence, science, data, and technology. It is supporting the Jameel Observatory and providing its expertise in establishing collaborative institutes and research programs for the past 75 years.

More information can be found on the Jameel Observatory’s website: http://jameelobservatory.org/