Agriculture

Free software assesses impact of disaster on Agriculture

The introduction of a new free software could change the way disaster assessment and response of the agriculture sector in Fiji and the Pacific is handled. This follows the introduction of the KoBo Toolbox software at the Software Simulation Training Exercise held at Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture in Suva. The United Nations Food and Agriculture […]

Nacanieli Tuilevuka

June 18, 2016 7:36 am

The introduction of a new free software could change the way disaster assessment and response of the agriculture sector in Fiji and the Pacific is handled.

 Questionnaire details from the Initial Disaster Assessment on a laptop screen, using the KoBo Toolbox. (Pacific Reach)
Questionnaire details from the Initial Disaster Assessment on a laptop screen, using the KoBo Toolbox. (Pacific Reach)

This follows the introduction of the KoBo Toolbox software at the Software Simulation Training Exercise held at Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture in Suva.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, (FAO) with the support of the EU Disaster Preparedness Office, (DIPECHO) aims to build capacity and reduce the impact of disaster on agriculture and food security in Fiji and across the Pacific with the KoBo Toolbox software.

Food and Nutrition Security and Disaster Risk Management Consultant Ms Dominique Blariaux said the software is used to develop questionnaires for assessing the impact of a disaster and is free for humanitarian use and  makes the immediate assessment at a disaster site and a fast, appropriate response possible.

BLARIAUX: “We can collect data in a mobile device like a smartphone, tablet or portable computer then send it to the central database. Information can be entered into the device even if there is no internet connection as the data will immediately be sent to the central collection point, as soon as the device is in range of the network.”

 Ms Katerina Sefeti explaining the Initial Disaster Assessment survey, using the KoBo toolbox. (Pacific Reach)
Ms Katerina Sefeti explaining the Initial Disaster Assessment survey, using the KoBo toolbox. (Pacific Reach)

BLARIAUX: “We can improve upon the quality of the information received and act appropriately within a shorter time frame. The earlier we understand the scope of a disaster, the faster we can respond appropriately to the priority needs of communities.”

The May training was one of four such workshops that will be conducted across Fiji by Ms Blariux who trained as a trainer with the FAO Consultant.

Attending the workshop were some 19 representatives of Fiji’s Food Security Cluster, including Ministry of Agriculture senior staff and Extension Officers, and representatives from UN Women, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, the National Food Security & Nutrition Centre, the University of the South Pacific, Medical Services Pacific and PGS (Participatory Guarantee Systems).

kobox-software
A participant using a tablet to access the Initial Disaster Assessment survey, using KoBo Toolbox. (Pacific Reach)

The software, developed in a joint initiative by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the International Rescue Committee, is part of a global initiative by UNOCHA.

The software has already been tested in Fiji by the Ministry of Agriculture to monitor drought conditions in December 2015 and again in January this year, to assess the impact of TC Ula on the Lau group.

It is being used in Vanuatu for drought monitoring and is currently being developed in the Solomon Islands by the National Disaster Management Office for initial multi-sector disaster assessments.

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