18 December 2023, Geneva, Switzerland - New satellite imagery analysis conducted by the United Nations Satellite Center (UNOSAT) has uncovered distressing trends in the agricultural landscape of the Gaza Strip. Based on an assessment utilizing Sentinel-2 satellite imagery collected between December 2017 and December 2023, the findings illuminate the significant impact of the ongoing conflict on the health and density of crops.
Compared to the average of the previous six years, a staggering 18% of arable land in the Gaza Strip has experienced a substantial decline in health and density. This stark revelation emerges from a comprehensive analysis employing Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and multi-temporal classification techniques.
UNOSAT's methodology focused on evaluating changes in agricultural areas, considering the period from 2017 to 2023. The assessment pinpointed December 2023 as a critical timeframe, revealing a noticeable deterioration in crop health and density compared to the preceding six seasons.
The decline observed in crop health is attributed to various conflict-related dynamics, including notably razing, heavy vehicle activity, bombing and shelling. The analysis extends beyond active crop fields, encompassing fallow lands and household gardens, offering a comprehensive view of the agricultural impact.
Covering approximately 50% of the total area of Gaza, the agricultural extent is estimated to be 185 sq. km. Notably, the North Gaza Governorate has witnessed a significant damage, impacting around 39% of its arable land. Additionally, the Gaza Governorate has experienced an increase in agricultural land damage, rising from 17% to 27% between November 2023 and December 2023.
These findings underscore the urgent need for immediate ceasefire and to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The repercussions on agricultural infrastructure are apparent, with substantial damage observed across thousands of hectares of farmland and essential cultivation facilities.
UNOSAT remains committed to providing accurate, objective and timely information to support humanitarian efforts in conflict-affected areas. Our satellite imagery analysis serves as a crucial tool for assessing the extent of damage and guiding emergency relief efforts.
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The United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) is part of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), with a mandate to provide United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies with satellite analysis, training and capacity development, at their request, as well as to support Member States with satellite imagery analysis over their respective territories and to provide training and capacity development in the use of geospatial information technologies, on the basis of voluntary contributions. By leveraging advanced technology, UNOSAT contributes to informed decision-making and facilitates the delivery of aid in crisis situations.