HSAD launches pioneering online tool to improve decision-making

A new online tool that aims to improve decision making in Iraq, was recently launched by HSAD and two of its international partners, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).      

Iraq Spatial aggregates a full range of development-related data – a ‘one-stop’ source of reliable and comprehensive geo-spatial information that targets Iraq’s policymakers and research community. Providing over 200 indicators - including macroeconomic, climate, and socio-economic data at the national, subnational, and pixel level - the resource enables users to target policies where they are most needed. 

After decades of conflict, sanctions, and increasing environmental degradation brought on by climate change, Iraq needs an appropriate policy agenda capable of revitalizing its struggling agricultural sector and meeting the food needs of its growing population.

Although policy reform may face significant constraints in Iraq, this process can be facilitated if policymakers are given reliable data on which to complement evidence-based decision making. Without access to accurate and comprehensive data, decision makers and researchers struggle to develop appropriate policy agendas – they lack the information they need to determine what interventions are needed, and where, and their policies may do more harm than good, or at best, be ineffective and miss their intended targets.  

Iraq Spatial is the first country portal affiliated with the more expansive Arab Spatial, a region-wide repository of geo-spatial information initiated by IFPRI and supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM).  Iraq Spatial builds on this model to provide more specific national and sub-national level data to assist in the precise targeting of food security and development interventions.

The launch, held in Baghdad, was attended by a broad range of participants, including representatives from Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture, officials from major international donors, development practitioners, and agricultural researchers. Reflecting on the tool’s potential, Director General of Iraq’s State Board for Agriculture Research, Muthana ElMuadhidi, commented: “We have many researchers from different specializations whose work will benefit greatly from the mapping and remote sensing capabilities of Iraq Spatial.”     

According to Dr. Chandrashekhar Biradar, the Head of ICARDA’s Geoinformatics Unit, who presented the tool to attendees at the launch, Iraq Spatial has the potential to make a lasting impact in Iraq: “Iraq Spatial 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.”  

As a free and open access knowledge platform, Iraq Spatial allows end-users to query a full range of databases, build interactive multilayer maps, and use customized analytical tools to compare, explore and download these results. It will also be updated and expanded on a regular basis and welcomes the submission of new information from partners and other stakeholders – thereby helping to continually improve the tool and further assist in the delivery of appropriate development interventions across Iraq.

The resource supports the work now being rolled out by the HSAD initiative to support policymakers in Iraq. Since the initiative’s inception last year, the program has supported Iraqi decision makers to identify policy and regulatory constraints, and initiated a policy and reform agenda capable of raising the country’s agricultural productivity. ICARDA and HSAD have been closely involved in the development of a national seed law, for instance, that promises to deliver quality seed to Iraqi farmers and raise their productivity.    


The Iraq Spatial can be accessed free of charge here

A series of photos taken at the launch can be viewed here