A proposed remote-sensing approach to analyzing the association between environmental changes and human health in Sub-Saharan Africa

Authors: Zeynab Jouzi*, North Carolina State University., Stacy Nelson, North Carolina State University., Yu-Fai Leung, North Carolina State University.
Topics: food systems, Africa, Remote Sensing
Keywords: Land cover change, remote sensing, food security, Zimbabwe, scale dependency
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


People’s livelihoods in Sub-Saharan countries such as Zimbabwe are heavily dependent on natural resources. Consequently, changes in natural resources conditions can have remarkable impacts on human communities. To monitor these changes and provide appropriate responses to humanitarian needs, access to timely and reliable data is a top management priority. However, due to technical limitations and some political concerns, obtaining reliable data about natural resources conditions in these countries may prove challenging. To address this issue, satellite derived-data analysis offers a valuable approach to detect changes in natural resources such as vegetation conditions. Indeed, vegetation assessment by satellite has been used by food security agencies to estimate local food production. We conducted a systematic literature review to understand the existing knowledge and to identify the research gaps on this topic. Our goal is to better understand the relationship between vegetation cover and human nutrition at different scales including local and regional. Our hypothesis is that the relationship between these two variables is scale dependent. To test this hypothesis, we calculated Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in the 2015 growing season and used this data as proxy for primary production of food in Zimbabwe. Data on human health were obtained from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS/USAID) program. Regression methods were used to investigate the relationship between vegetation cover and children's nutritional status in Zimbabwe. This analytical approach and research results have domestic and international policy and management implications that would be beneficial in achieving sustainable development goals related to human food security.

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