Online tool aims to improve Iraqi food security

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

“Iraq Spatial provides a comprehensive and accessible set of visual analytics that help to target policies and research more effectively..."
“Iraq Spatial provides a comprehensive and accessible set of visual analytics that help to target policies and research more effectively..."
International researchers have launched a new online tool to analyse Iraqi food and agriculture information and improve the country's food security.

Iraq Spatial combines more than 200 sets of data to allow policy makers, researchers and other stakeholders to visualise data in a new and more effective way. The tool is the first country-specific version of Arab Spatial, launched by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) last year.

The Iraq version uses IFPRI's system and concept, combined with new data from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (Icarda), including socio-economic, climate and biophysical information.

Food security is a critical issue in Iraq, where nearly two million people are food insecure, according to IFPRI, and recent years have mostly seen declines in agricultural production.

Informing policy initiatives

Iraq Spatial provides a comprehensive and accessible set of visual analytics that help to target policies and research more effectively​,” said Chandrashekhar Biradar, head of Icarda's geoinformation unit.

It gives Iraq’s decision makers and research community the information they need to develop appropriate policy reforms and strategies that are capable of raising agricultural productivity and strengthening food security. With an option for end users to add relevant data, the tool will become even more comprehensive over time, helping to further assist the targeting of interventions​.”

Iraq Spatial uses IFPRI's ‘Food Security System’ framework, which aims to identify pathways to improve food security, using a wide range of data and indicators to inform the model.

 Open access

One of the key prerequisites to addressing Iraq’s development challenges is building and maintaining a detailed, timely, and robust information base to inform policy​,” said Clemens Breisinger, senior research fellow at IFPRI.

Iraq Spatial aspires to do so through its expanding open access database, easy to use mapping and analytical tools, and the growing partnerships it aims to build and strengthen with both national and international development partners​,” he added.

The tool is free to access, and can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world. When users have created a visualisation, they can then download the data to use it outside of Iraq Spatial.

Speaking about Arab Spatial in general, Perrihan Al-Riffai, senior research analyst for development strategy at IFPRI, said: “What we hope Arab Spatial ends up becoming is this visual tool that allows not just policy makers, but really the public, to analyse all the data that exists in the Arab world, in a way most suited to highlighting development challenges. And hopefully by highlighting a development challenge, when you see it visually, it will help influence correct and proper policy design.​”

Iraq Spatial can be accessed online here​.

Related topics: Middle East

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