Crowdsourcing: an approach to revolutionize and improve rangeland monitoring

Crowdsourcing, which is outsourcing work to an undefined and often large group of people, is an innovative data collection approach that could be exploited to provide information on rangelands forage conditions to improve rangeland management programs.


A recent study by the Crowdsourcing for Rangeland Conditions project—implemented through a collaboration between the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Cornell University and the University of Sydney—applied a crowdsourcing approach to collect detailed information on forage conditions in northern Kenya.

For more than a decade, the satellite-based advanced very-high-resolution radiometer (AVHRR) sensor has been in use. It provided daily time series of normalized differences vegetation index (NDVI) data from across the earth. However, the resolution is inadequate to distinguish between plant species and the palatability of the vegetation.

The study showed that crowdsourcing can be used to seal gaps in the AVHRR method by using digital technology and local knowledge to gather low-cost and near real-time data on vegetation type, palatability and carrying capacity to improve existing forage models relying on remotely sensed data.

Researchers in this study used crowdsourcing to collect accurate, low-cost and real-time data on rangeland conditions. According to the findings, the approach has the potential to revolutionize and improve the process of rangeland monitoring and could be used by the National Drought Management Authority to validate and expand their existing monitoring systems.

Findings from this study could also be used to calibrate the index used by the ILRI-led Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) project.

Download the brief 

Largest-ever micro-insurance payout made to Ethiopian pastoralists

ILRI news

Pastoralist receive an indemnity payment after livestock losses More than 2,250 pastoralists received insurance payouts following the extremely poor rains this year in southern Ethiopia.

More than 2,250 pastoralists received insurance payouts following the extremely poor rains this year in southern Ethiopia. Low levels of rainfall have led to the loss of approximately 300,000 livestock in 2017 in the Borana zone of the southern Oromia region. The insurance payouts of more than ETB 5.233 million (USD 220,000) was the largest-ever micro-insurance indemnity made in Ethiopia. Each insured pastoralist received an average of ETB 2,255 (USD 96), which will allow the herders to purchase feeds for their surviving animals and to restock their herds.

Pastoralists in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia have been insured by an index-based livestock insurance (IBLI) scheme devised in 2008 by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and its technical partners at Cornell University and the University of California at Davis. The Ethiopian component of…

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Record payouts being made by Kenya Government and insurers to protect herders facing historic drought

ILRI news

klip_cropped02From left to right: Jimmy Smith, director general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI); Andrew Tuimur, principal secretary in Kenya’s State Department of Livestock; and Willy Bett, cabinet secretary for the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries during a press conference held on 20 Feb 2017 announcing payments to more than 12,000 pastoral households under the Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP) (photo credit: ILRI/Dorine Odongo).

More than Ksh214 million is on tap for 12,000 pastoral households in six counties of northern Kenya through innovative policies that use satellite imagery to trigger payments for feed, veterinary supplies and water.

As an epic drought desiccates fields and forages in the Horn of Africa, Government of Kenya officials, in partnership with Kenyan insurers, today announced payments to over 12,000 pastoral households under a breakthrough livestock insurance plan—one that uses satellites to monitor vegetation available to livestock and triggers assistance for feed, veterinary medicines and even…

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For pioneering livestock index insurance, World Food Prize Award honors World Bank grantee

This past October, Andrew Mude of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) received the World Food Prize International Symposium’s top honor — the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application — for his work on developing livestock index insurance in the lowlands of East Africa.

Mude’s award highlights the crucial role innovative financial solutions play in protecting cattle farming against climate disruptions, which pose a serious threat to the livelihoods of African herders and consumers. Financial instruments, such as index insurance schemes, serve as shock absorbers for the vulnerable in building resilience and adaptation to climate, according to the ‘Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape’ (A2R) initiative unveiled at COP21 last year.

Food security and resilience-building have become central in the international development community’s efforts to help developing countries and vulnerable populations manage climate change. Read more

Characterizing Regional Suitability for Index Based Livestock Insurance

Pastoral populations of Sub-Saharan Africa are particularly vulnerable to environmental shocks, which contribute to livestock mortality and therefore losses in both wealth and productive assets. Although conventional insurance mechanisms covering individual losses are generally not cost effective  (page 2) in low-income pastoral communities that engage in extensive grazing, index insurance for livestock offers a promising alternative. Unlike traditional loss-based insurance, index based insurance uses an external indicator to approximate losses on an aggregate level over a particular area. Index insurance is also less susceptible to moral hazard because payout is independent of an insured client’s individual behavior, and less susceptible to adverse selection because the index is created from external variables unrelated to individual-specific risk. These advantages motivate the design behind the International Livestock Research Institute’s novel index based livestock insurance (IBLI) product.…..continue reading

Kenyan accepts 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application at World Food Prize Event in Iowa

ILRI news

d8_mudeandrew_speaking8 Andrew Mude, speaking at an event announcing his award held at ILRI
in Nairobi, Kenya, 30 Aug 2016 (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Researcher Andrew Mude and colleagues are also receiving
today a USAID ‘Award for Scientific Excellence’.

Both awards honour innovative use of
satellite technology and community outreach
to develop livestock insurance for
vulnerable herding communities in the Horn of Africa.

Andrew Mude, an economist and principal scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is being presented with the 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application today, 12 Oct 2016, for his work leading an innovative livestock insurance program that employs satellite data to help protect livestock herding communities in the Horn of Africa from the devastating effects of drought.

The accolade, named to honour the legendary crop scientist and Nobel Prize winner, will be presented to Mude by Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin at a…

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