US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 4 (2013) 71-81

doi 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2013.02.001


US government work


During 1990s, disaster risk reduction emerged as a novel, proactive approach to managing risks from natural hazards. The World Bank, USAlD, and other international donor agencies began making efforts to mainstream disaster risk reduction in countries whose population and economies were heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture. This approach has more significance in light of the increasing climatic hazard patterns and the climate scenarios projected for different hazard prone countries in the world. The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) has been monitoring the food security issues in the sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and in Haiti. FEWS NET monitors the rainfall and moisture availability conditions with the help of NOAA RFE2 data for deriving food security status in Africa. This paper highlights the efforts in using satellite estimated rainfall inputs to develop drought vulnerability models in the drought prone areas in Malawi. The satellite RFE2 based SPI corresponding to the critical tasseling and silking phases (in the months of January, February, and March) were statistically regressed with drought-induced yield losses at the district level. The analysis has shown that the drought conditions in February and early March lead to most damage to maize yields in this region. The district-wise vulnerabilities to drought were up scaled to obtain a regional maize vulnerability model for southern Malawi. The results would help in establishing an early monitoring mechanism for drought impact assessment, give the decision makers additional time to assess seasonal outcomes, and identify potential food-related hazards in Malawi.