As part of its matchmaking approach that devises data-driven early action food security solutions for dry areas, the Jameel Observatory supports researchers looking for answers that pastoral communities can use to overcome climate changes. Observatory Affiliates combine their academic research with the development of products and tools that have practical applications in drylands.

Gary Watmough is an Interdisciplinary Lecturer in Land Use and Socioecological Systems in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences and an Associate Member of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on metrics to map human development using earth observation data. His research also supports the UN’s call for a data revolution in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help monitor progress and contribute to geographic targeting of scarce resources. Many of Gary’s projects are co-designed with UN agencies and they deal with gaps in knowledge and provide required outputs for practitioners as well as furthering scientific knowledge. Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, Gary held postdoctoral research fellowships at Aarhus University in Denmark and at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.  

Research focus and plans

Gary’s particular niche is using earth observation proxies to estimate aspects of poverty and socioeconomic conditions in rural regions of low and middle income countries. He has also worked on several projects estimating human vulnerability to climate change and has contributed to the World’s first Children’s Climate Risk Index with UNICEF. Gary’s overall research aim is to develop approaches for geographical targeting of scarce government and NGO resources, particularly in low and middle income countries. His focus is on supporting geographic targeting of resources using geospatial data and techniques. Gary has over 10 years experience working in the EO4SDGs (Earth Observation for Sustainable Development Goals) field and in-particular using very-high spatial resolution (<1metre) satellite data.

Jameel Observatory significance

Gary plans to work with high- and very-high spatial resolution satellite data with the Jameel Observatory to identify how fine scale, local conditions can be better factored into a range of projects in pastoral communities. Gary is supervising John Mutua’s PhD which uses earth observation (EO) combined with local ground truth data to estimate livestock feed composition in East Africa. 

Follow Gary on Twitter: @GaryRWatmough

Read about Gary’s work

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