What is the impact of armed conflict on the agricultural sector in Syria? What can be done with satellite imagery? Early 2017 eLEAF was approached with these questions by the Economic and Social Impact Assessment team of the World Bank and asked to provide technical assistance.

We mapped changes in agricultural productivity in Syria over time and compared them with trends in neighbouring countries. It was found that the agriculture and irrigation sector in Syria has been severely affected by the conflict in terms of land utilization, cropping intensity and crop yields.

The maps on the right show the results of a comparison between an agricultural area in northern Syria (above) and an agricultural area in neighbouring southeastern Turkey. A stark difference between pre-conflict production (2011) and production during the conflict (2016) can be seen.  The study confirmed that Earth observation (EO) data has great potential for assessing agricultural production losses in areas under conflict, in particular as statistics for such areas are often not available.

The work was carried out within the framework of the ESA EO4SD – Earth Observation for Sustainable Development initiative (see the portfolio section on this website) and was published in the World Bank report “The Toll of War: the Economic and Social Consequences of the Conflict in Syria”. For more information see presentation here, or contact us.