This report is a topical overview analysis carried out by the GDA Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) and Impact Assessment activity, under the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Global Development Assistance (GDA) programme – a global partnership to mainstream the use of Earth Observation (EO) into development operations, implemented in cooperation with major International Financial Institutions (IFIs).
Recent investment in data acquisition via satellites, open and free access to data and advances in
data science and data processing speeds have meant that satellite imagery is more readily
available, at a lower cost and higher quality. IFIs are increasingly realising the potential use of EO
for sustainable development purposes. However, there is growing recognition of the value in the
use of EO data for M&E.
There are important limitations to EO that limit its value for the M&E of all interventions, in particular limitations relating to resolution, issues related to cloud cover and availability of images
and its inability to look inside buildings, which would make it less useful to evaluate e.g., the restocking of malaria medicine. Nonetheless, EO can bring great value to the M&E of a variety of development interventions across expansive areas, such as those related to agriculture and forestry, and can also monitor physical features as a proxy for socioeconomic factors. Therefore, this report will focus on these key areas exploring the use of EO across the different forms of M&E, each of which are undertaken for a different purpose.
This report will look at the use of EO data in the M&E process of development interventions, focusing primarily on the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), ESA’s primary IFI partners under the Space for IDA collaboration framework.

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