The Asian Development Bank (ADB) awarded a contract to SISTEMA GmbH to support the ADB Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations (FCAS) team in their activities in Afghanistan and surrounding countries (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan). It follows activities initiated through the Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) Fragility cluster, a precursor programme to GDA in which SISTEMA was involved.
In August 2021, the political situation in Afghanistan triggered population movements across the borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which were difficult to assess due to limited access to these areas. Thanks to Earth Observation (EO), it is possible to detect and monitor population displacements by using time series of high and very high resolution satellite data.
SISTEMA performed a large scale analysis using Sentinel-2 data to identify new settlements by comparing data from 2020, 2021 and 2022 (see Figure 1). The Artificial Intelligence tool allowed to estimate that in the area of “Mazâr-e Charîf” (Afghanistan), the urban area increased by 17% in the last two years (Figure 2).
In Bokhtar, Tajikistan, PlanetScope data was collected and processed to better assess the changes that occurred between 2020 and 2022 (Figure 3). By identifying each settlement and evaluating their size, it was possible to have a preliminary estimation of the population who moved from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries.
This information was useful for the ADB FCAS team to plan appropriate support actions in the region. Moreover, the methodology was demonstrated to be suitable for rapid response to crisis situations. Indeed, the automatic change detection tool can quickly process data for large regions, and the provision of timely and accurate information is crucial in such contexts.