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Optimising infrastructure investment for food production

Sensonomic helped IFAD target investment in Senegal efficiently by modelling future impacts

Challenge

Planting and harvest for some of Senegal’s most important crops coincides with the end of the rainy season, and rain and poor roads make transport of agricultural inputs like fertiliser a logistical challenge. Infrastructure investments can mitigate flooding and increase output, but funding is limited so a thorough investment analysis is critical.

Currently, investment decisions are often made on the basis of one-off, manual field surveys to assess the current situation and develop baselines. This is not dynamic or easily updated, and delivers weak analysis of potential knock-on effects of investment.

Solution

Sensonomic led a consortium of companies and research institutions to deliver the project ‘Earth Observation for Decision Making’ for the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Our consortium developed  new methods for assessing where to invest in infrastructure, based on insights gathered from satellite data, topology, and agent-based modelling of farming systems.

Sensonomic brought the predictive powers of agent-based modelling combined with earth observation data to the area of strategic investment analysis. We have developed a dynamic investment analysis tool, which lets you assess the future impacts of your potential investment, and provides ongoing evaluation.

Our tool simulates agricultural, ecological and component investments in representations built from dynamic satellite data sources. It functions in a spatially-accurate system, mapping the agricultural area of interest, and lets users adjust key variables (such as investment amount per year, or acceptable flood risk) to virtually test the impact of decisions in different scenarios.

At the point of project prioritisation, the tool will provide strategic decision support to compare impacts of potential projects, and increase the likelihood of positive interventions. As projects progress, we can provide a semi-annual model update for M&E alignment, and dynamic advice for optimal implementation of program activities.  

Results

Users are able to test different scenarios in an interactive, web-based dashboard, and see the predicted outputs play out over time. This allows you to ensure that you focus on the most effective projects, monitor them with relevant and insightful KPIs, and continually assess the impact of the project as it unfolds. Rather than delivering static, one off reports, Sensonomic provide a dynamic tool which evolves with your project and allows you to critically assess your impact as you progress.

Whilst this project is currently localised to Bandafassi, Senegal, we are looking to expand it to other locations and systems. Get in touch to discuss how we could help with your investment decisions and monitoring.

Satellite image of Banafassi in Senegal, showing a river winding across the area, and scrubland with brown and green patches, and a built up area

Question

How can development aid reach further, impact more people and increase food security in the most effective way possible?

Where should IFAD invest in agricultural infrastructure, to have optimal impacts on food production?