Floods in Bangladesh in 2019. Image: UN Women Asia and the Pacific.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is leveraging space-based information to support government and humanitarian agencies in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region with timely information for flood early warning and inundation mapping. The efforts, which consist of developing a streamflow prediction system for flood early warning and of providing near real-time flood maps for disaster response, come as the monsoon floods in the region are worsening and compunding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based at ICIMOD, the streamflow prediction system to support flood early warning is being developed through the SERVIR-HKH initiative, which benefits from technical assistance from NASA and the Bringham Young University. The system provides 15-day streamflow... read more

Publishing Date: 19/08/2020
Report cover.

At the end of 2019, countries in the Horn of Africa began to suffer the impacts of locust swarms. Later, the locust migrated to regions in Southwest Asia. Unfortunately, the impacts on farmers are devastating. Furthermore, the combined impact of these locust plague and COVID-19 is having a toll of the livelihoods of many farmers in these regions. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has indicated that 42 million people are facing severe acute food insecurity because of this plague.

Since the end of 2019, the Aerospace Information Research Institute (ARI) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has been tracking the temporal and geospatial dynamics of the locust plague in the Horn of Africa, Eastern Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. To track this plague, experts from the Vegetation Remote Sensing & Pest and Disease Application Research Team of ARI developed the Vegetation Pests and Diseases Monitoring and Forecasting System. This... read more

Publishing Date: 13/08/2020
Desert locust suitable habitat survey map. Image: SUPARCO.

The Space Application Centre for Response in Emergency and Disasters (SACRED) of the Space & Upper ... read more

Publishing Date: 04/06/2020
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An aerial view of flooding in Pakistan in 2010. Image Australian Government/CC BY 2.0

Pakistan launched an Earth observation satellite into space on 9 July which will assist the country to monitor natural disasters.

The Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite-1 (PRSS-1) was propelled into space on a Chinese Long March 2C rocket which lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Center in northwest China.

PRSS-1 is equipped with two panchromatic/multispectral cameras, with a resolution up to one metre and a coverage range of 60 kilometres. This high-resolution optical payload will enable Pakistan to monitor natural disasters in near real-time. Specifically, PRSS-1 data will be used for weather and climate forecasting to track weather-related natural disasters including storms and floods. The provision of such timely satellite data aims to improve the emergency response and accelerate rebuilding efforts by national authorities in the aftermath of natural disasters... read more

Publishing Date: 19/07/2018
Report on Mapping Multiple Climate-related Hazards in South Asia

Countries experience multiple climate-related risks that vary spatially and in time, with the combined impact of such risks carrying severe consequences for the population. A new collaborative research study by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) identifies the need to carry out regional level assessments of these risks in South Asia.

The IWMI Research Report 170 suggests methods for mapping such climate-related risks and estimating their subsequent impacts. Space-based information is a key component in this context and supports efforts to estimate the impact on people and agriculture in South Asia.

Regional, national and sub-national assessments of five related risks - floods, droughts, extreme rainfall, extreme temperature and sea-level rise, were carried out in the region. The... read more

Publishing Date: 04/07/2017
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
Satellite image of an isolated settlement in Kano, Nigeria (Image: DigitalGlobe)

A joint project between DigitalGlobe and many volunteers has helped in the eradication of polio through mapping of villages in developing countries during vaccination campaigns. The mapping of the often isolated settlements was complicated and apart from analysing big data captured by satellites, DigitalGlobe had to rely on volunteers and crowdsourcing based on the Tomnod programme. The final result is a map covering 285,103 villages in Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

These maps are used to ensure that vaccination campaigns have the required data to search for everyone who needs to be immunized against the illness and know the amount of medical doses and human staff that ought to be sent. In the past two months polio was finally eliminated from the whole African continent after it disappeared from Nigeria and Somalia. Only two countries remain with the presence of this disease: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

DigitalGlobe is involved in the delivery of satellite... read more

Publishing Date: 17/08/2015
Satallite image of the city of Karachi (Pakistan) on the Arabian Sea (Image: ESA)

The Japanese Government will support the replacement of the Karachi meteorological radar with 1.95 billion Yen (approximately 14.2 million Euros). This assistance belongs to a wider aid plan called National Multi Hazard Early Warning System Plan which was a part of the National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) formulated through Japan’s assistance in 2012. This included the replacement of another weather radar in Islamabad and the installation of a Flood Forecasting System in conjunction with UNESCO.

The Karachi radar was established in 1991 under the grant of Japan together with other three radars that are part of the meteorological radar system of Pakistan, that currently counts on seven radars. Its mission was the monitoring of precipitations and tropical cyclones in the country’s Southern area. Nevertheless, the device has become obsolete during the last 24 years and needs to be replaced by a digital Doppler mode radar that would deliver more precise weather forecasts and... read more

Publishing Date: 13/07/2015
Floods in Pakistan observed by ESA's Envisat satellite in 2010 (Image: ESA)

The Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) of Pakistan announced that all rivers of Punjab will be monitored by satellites operated by SUPARCO. The aim is to receive updated information of flow of water in rivers and nullahs in order to monitor floods.

According to Chief Relief Commissioner Punjab and Senior Member Board of Revenue Nadeem Ashraf "modern software had been developed to obtain information regarding the flow of water and its impact on surrounding areas. Information will also be received regarding rains through satellite before time so that planning could be made regarding relief in future."

SUPARCO is one of UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Offices - a network of regional centres of expertise on space-based information for disaster... read more

Publishing Date: 26/06/2015
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
The new agreement is aimed to provide assistance to all Saarc member states affected by disasters (Image: Krish Dulal)

An agreement signed by all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) states (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and India) is underway to promote a rapid response to natural disasters.

A Saarc monitoring system including tools for early warning system and risk mitigation could ease the humanitarian and technical assistance in member states when affected by natural disasters, facilitating for instance disaster relief or information on potential risks.

India is taking a leading role in setting up the system and is committed to provide technical assistance to all member states, besides manpower and financial support, as The Times of India informed.

"New Delhi was signatory to an agreement in Jakarta this January to develop a standard operating procedure for the region," said Santosh Kumar, director of Saarc Disaster Management Centre and executive director of the National Institute of Disaster Management.

Publishing Date: 29/04/2015
ICIMOD and PCRWR are conducting a workshop on satellite-based remote sensing for water management

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office in Nepal, is co-organising a workshop with the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) on using satellite imagery to better manage freshwater resources

"Nurturing Satellite Remote Sensing Applications for Water Management in South Asia" is taking place in Islamabad, Pakistan from 16 to 20 February 2015. Distinguished professors from the University of Washington, the University of Houston, and Ohio State University are training participants from key water resource management agencies in the country, including PCRWR, IRSA, PMD, and PARC.

At the inaugural session, Kamran Ali Qureshi, Federal Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Technology, emphasized that the use of satellites in space is the only way to constantly monitor the changes freshwater resources are undergoing as a result of the interplay between human behaviour and natural processes.... read more

Publishing Date: 19/02/2015
Rapid Damage Assessment of Distict Jhang on 18 September 2014

Heavy monsoon rains initiated flash floods in Azad Kashmir, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan regions of Pakistan during the first week of September 2014. The heavy rains and flash floods overflowed rivers Chenab and Jhelum, destroying hundreds of houses causing human and property losses. The damages included destruction of houses and buildings, road infrastructure, breaching in canals, collapsing of bridges, damages to rice, cotton, sugar cane crops and inundation of agriculture land.

The Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) of the Pakistan Metrological Department issued a flood alert on 4 September 2014, highlighting the likelihood of very high flooding in River Chenab, Jhelum and Ravi. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Punjab requested the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) of Pakistan to provide pre-flood images of Chenab and Jhelum Rivers and also to provide technical assistance during... read more

Publishing Date: 29/12/2014
Regional Support Offices mentioned:

UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office (RSO) in Pakistan, SUPARCO, has elaborated a booklet on lessons learnt from floods in the country. The booklet is part of a new series of publications on experiences and best practices by UN-SPIDER's RSOs in the application of Space-based information in disaster risk reduction and emergency response.

The booklet "Effective use of Space-based information to monitor disasters and its impacts: Lessons Learnt from Floods in Pakistan" describes SUPARCO's experience in utilizing satellite data for floods in Pakistan, such as SPOT data or Aqua/Terra satellite data. This booklet specifically looks at the floods of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, and the lessons learnt from these experiences.

Pakistan has suffered immensely in the past of devastating... read more

Publishing Date: 31/10/2014
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of the floods.

Following heavy floods and landslides in Pakistan's Punjab and Kashmir provinces, the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters was activated to provide satellite-based disaster maps. The mechanism was triggered by UNITAR/UNOSAT on behalf of UNOCHA.

The International Charter reported: "The Punjab and Kashmir Provinces, on the border with India, have suffered the worst of the flooding, and the majority of the deaths in Pakistan took place in Punjab. After the heavy rain, rivers - including the Chenab - in Pakistan and India rose and flooded, sweeping downstream. The surge of water inundated villages and agricultural areas, as well as parts of nearby cities, destroying thousands of homes. Residents had little warning of the rapidly developing flood, which accounted for much of the initial death toll when people were caught in their homes in the night."

The satellite image products will be published on the... read more

Publishing Date: 15/09/2014
Satellite Image of Pakistan

On 20 May 2014, Pakistan’s Agriculture Secretary, Ahmed Bakhsh Narejo, inaugurated the country's first satellite remote sensing laboratory specifically dedicated to monitoring crops in the province Sindh.

The remote sensing lab is a collaboration between Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) - one of UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Offices - and the Food and Agriculture Organization  (FAO). It will serve to gather, monitor and forecast crop data. The experts will monitor crop conditions, estimate yields and aid planners and policy makers with timely measurements in order to maintain crop quality.

Data gather by the lab will be distributed through the Crop Reporting Services Centre (CRSC) in a monthly web-based bulletin containing information on crop conditions and statistics of Sindh’s districts of Hyderabad, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Tando Mohammad Khan, Badin, Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Thatta, Larkana, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Shikarpur, Dadu,... read more

Publishing Date: 28/05/2014
Regional Support Offices mentioned:

UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office in Pakistan supported emergency response efforts following the massive landslide in Afghanistan on 2 May 2014. The experts prepared impact and damage maps for Ab Barek in the Province Badakhshan.

The maps depict an analysis based on SPOT 5 satellite imagery from 17 January 2014 received at SUPARCO's Satellite Ground Station in Islamabad and Worldview 2 imagery acquired on 2 May 2014 and provided by the US Geological Survey. The maps were prepared in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

On 2 May 2014, torrential rainfall had caused a section of mountain to collapse burying about 300 homes with 2000 people missing. As UN-SPIDER reported previously, the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters was activated on 29 April 2014 in response to the heavy rains and flash... read more

Publishing Date: 20/05/2014
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
Islamabad, Pakistan seen from Space in 2003

The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), which hosts one of UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Offices, will support the Pakistani Capital Development Authority (CDA) in preventing encroachments in Islamabad and improve urban planning and monitoring in Pakistan's capital. This was reported by the website The News.

SUPARCO will compare archived satellite imagery with newly acquired imagery to detect changes. In the process of this measure all of Islamabad will be digitalised resulting in a digital map of the city including the rural areas indicating schools, hospitals, roads, dams, parks, or shopping centres. This allows authorities to keep check on the increase in housing and illegal possessions and help in future... read more

Publishing Date: 24/12/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
4th National Coordination Committee (NCC) Meeting at SUPARCO's headquarters

UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office in Pakistan, SUPARCO, has been participating in the international humanitarian satellite-aided search and rescue COSPAS-SARSAT Programme since 1990 as a ground segment provider. The programme provides global distress alert and location data free of charge and on non-discriminatory basis. It utilizes satellites and ground facilities to detect and locate ships, aircraft and land mobiles in distress. The Pakistan ground segment consists of Mission Control Center (PAMCC) and Local User Terminal (PALUT). It is operational on 24/7/365 basis and located at SUPARCO's headquarters in Karachi.

For effective implementation of COSPAS-SARSAT, the Government of Pakistan approved the constitution of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) with following mandate:

  • ensuring consistency of satellite aided search and rescue operations / plans with the national plans
  • maintainability of compatibility with the on-going COSPAS-SARSAT... read more
Publishing Date: 30/09/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
Epicenter of the 7.7 Richter scale earthquake that struck Pakistan in September

An earthquake measuring 7.7 Richter scale struck Pakistan's South Western region in Balochistan province at 16:30 hours on 24 September 2013. The epicenter of earthquake was 10 km deep and 120 kilometers south-west of Khuzdar district. The tremors of the earthquake were felt across the country, seriously affecting Awaran and Kech Districts of Balochistan. According to National Disaster Management Authority about 375 individuals were confirmed deaths and 815 injured.

SUPARCO, host of UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office in Pakistan, immediately requested for tasking of Pleiades satellite to capture images of the affected target areas. Additionally, the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters was activated by UNICEF. This effort made available very high resolution images within just two days after the earthquake which greatly helped in... read more

Publishing Date: 30/09/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
UN-SPIDER RSO coordinators from Iran and Pakistan at the closing ceremony.

The UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices in Iran (ISA) and Pakistan (SUPARCO) through Inter-Islamic Network on Space Sciences and Technology (ISNET) jointly held a two week Workshop on Space Applications for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management during 7-19 September 2013 at Iranian Space Agency (ISA) in Tehran, Iran. The workshop was attended by 28 scientists and researchers from ISNET member states who work in matters related to applications of space technology for disaster risk reduction and management particularly on early warning, prevention, response and mitigation. The participants represented space agencies, disaster management authorities and other space-related organizations from Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Senegal, Libya, Malaysia and Sudan.

The workshop was aimed at imparting hands-on training on six major disaster hazards, namely: floods, earthquakes, landslides, cyclones, tsunamis and avalanches. The main objectives of the workshop included:

Publishing Date: 30/09/2013
Damage created by the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan

The International Charter: Space and Major Disasters was activated on 24 September 2013 to support emergency responders with satellite-based maps and products. A large and powerful earthquake struck the province of Balochistan, a remote, mountainous region of Pakistan, on the evening of 24 September 2013. The region is Pakistan's largest, but least populated province. Officials in the area report that major damage and loss of life has been averted due to the earthquake's location in a remote area.

The earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale and tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi. Aftershocks of up to 5 magnitude are expected following the earthquake. The International Charter was activated by UNITAR/UNOSAT.

Publishing Date: 25/09/2013

Pakistan is currently facing medium to high level flooding in all the major rivers of the country. The flooding is mainly due to heavy monsoon rains combined with hill torrents from North-Western mountain ranges and heavy inflow of water in Eastern Rivers. According to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), heavy monsoon rains starting at the beginning of August 2013 caused widespread losses and damages across the country. About 139 lives are lost and one million people are affected across Pakistan.


Field validation (pre and post flood situation

To monitor the situation, UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office in Pakistan, SUPARCO, started generating daily flood inundation maps based on MODIS sensors of Aqua/Terra... read more

Publishing Date: 03/09/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
 Flooding in the Punjab and Sindh Province's of Pakistan

On 22 August 2013, UNITAR/UNOSAT requested the activation of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters to support Pakistan in its emergency response to the widespread flooding that is affecting the country. Monsoon rains that started in early August have lead to flooding in the Punjab and Sindh Province's of Pakistan, affecting over 1 million people and causing the death of about 130.

Since flash floods have destroyed 10,000 homes and affected almost 2000 villages so far, around 15,000 people have been evacuated to relief camps. However, local roads have been inundated, hampering even more relief efforts and travel. Crops and cattle have also been affected by the flood waters with long-term consequences for the local villagers, who rely on the farms for their food. An estimation of 5000 cattle have been killed and hundreds of thousands of acres of crops destroyed.

Publishing Date: 22/08/2013
SAR exercises on 30 April, 7 March and training course from 8 to 19 July.

Two Search and Rescue (SAR) exercises and a basic SAR training course were hosted by the Pakistan Rescue Coordinate Centre (PARCC). PARCC is a part of the satellite ground segment of the COSPAS-SARSAT programme of SUPARCO (UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office in Pakistan) and installed at Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA), which is responsible for all matters of aircraft in Pakistan. COSPAS-SARSAT is an international humanitarian satellite-based search and rescue program. The programme provides accurate, timely and reliable global distress alert and location data free of charge and on a non-discriminatory basis to help Search and Rescue (SAR) authorities assist persons in distress. It utilizes satellites and ground facilities to detect and locate ships, aircrafts and land mobiles in distress, all of which have a direct impact on the probability of survival.

The Pakistan ground segment consists of the Mission Control Center (PAMCC) and Local User Terminal (PALUT). It... read more

Publishing Date: 31/07/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
Snow Cover Extent on 2 January 2013 monitored using MODIS data.

UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office in Pakistan - the Pakistan space and upper atmosphere research commission (SUPARCO) - participated in the annual national conference on monsoon preparedness and contingency plan for the year 2013 organized by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on 26th and 27th June 2013. The focus of the conference was to provide an opportunity to Government Departments, UN agencies and various stakeholders to share their level of preparedness and respective contingency plans for the upcoming monsoon season 2013.

SUPARCO gave a presentation on the situation likely to be created due to melting of glaciers and heavy snowfall received during winters earlier. The experts explained the assessment of the snow cover and expected river run-off in the Indus Basin. This study focuses on the assessment of the snow cover dynamics on a monthly basis from 2008-2013. MODIS (On-board TERRA Satellite) imagery of 250m spatial... read more

Publishing Date: 25/07/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:
Map showing variation in earthquake intensity

A strong earthquake measuring 7.8 magnitudes on the Richter scale struck Southern Iran close to Pakistan-Iran border on April 16, 2013 at 1044 Hours GMT. The earthquake epicenter was 76 km deep and affected south-western bordering areas of Pakistan near Iranian border.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan requested SUPARCO - the National Space Agency of Pakistan and UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Office - to monitor and assess the damages caused by the earthquake. Within hours of the earthquake, SPOT-6 satellite was programmed over the affected area and images were acquired the very next day. Rapid maps based on pre and post-earthquake (SPOT 5 & SPOT 6) satellite imageries were generated. In the Rapid analysis most affected settlement in two districts and damaged building structures were quickly identified. The maps were... read more

Publishing Date: 28/05/2013
Regional Support Offices mentioned:


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