US Secretary Blinken Commends Angola’s Commitment to Addressing Food Insecurity through its ADDSS Project

During Mr Antony Blinke, the  United States of America’s (USA) Secretary of State visit to Angola, the General Manager of Angola’s National Space Programme Management Office (GGPEN), Dr Zolana João presented the preliminary findings of the Angola Drought Decision Support System (ADDSS) project, developed by GGPEN and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Mr Blinken underscored the ADDSS project’s crucial role in addressing Angola’s pressing issues, specifically focusing on drought and the project’s significance in capacity-building for both countries.

According to the Secretary of State, “Fundamentally, at the heart of all of our partnerships, including the partnership with Angola, is sharing and transferring knowledge.  Because, as important as assistance is, as important as investment is, it is that transfer of knowledge – the sharing of knowledge, the sharing of understanding – that genuinely builds capacity in our partner countries and allows them to stand strongly on their own feet.  I am very pleased that Angola is joining as an early partner in our VACS initiative, Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils.  The power here is this: we have been dealing with this kind of food insecurity over the last few years, and we have seen an almost perfect storm between climate change, COVID, conflicts like the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and the impact they have had on food security. One of the things that I have heard in Africa is that for all of the thanks that we get for the emergency assistance that we have been able to provide – either directly or through the United Nations, like the World Food Programme – what our partners are really for are investments in their sustainable, productive capacity.  And at the heart of that is ensuring they have the strongest possible system for producing food. And one of the things that we have understood is that it starts with two fundamental things: the seeds and the soil”.

Source: GGPEN

ADDSS incorporates environmental, social, and policy analyses to support the Angolan government in tackling drought and aids in pinpointing areas across the country that are highly vulnerable to the socioeconomic impacts of drought. By leveraging the National Aeronautic and Space  Administration’s (NASA) SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite data, Angola can craft a tailored national assessment of soil moisture and drought severity. This involves data that illustrates changes in soil moisture and levels of drought, drawing comparisons between an unusually wet 2020 and a drier 2019.

“The ADDSS project is a prime example of the African country’s commitment to utilising satellite technology to drive policy-informed solutions and advance the African space innovation ecosystem. By partnering with Professor Danielle Wood from the MIT Media Lab, we take pride in leading a project funded by NASA’s Earth Science Division with a USD 550,000 grant to design a Drought Decision Support System for Angola.  This project exemplifies our dedication to leveraging space technology for impactful societal solutions and policy support. Secretary Blinken’s recognition further underscores the global significance and positive influence of the ADDSS project”, Dr Zolana João commented.