Drought and desertification are recurrent problems that bring untold suffering to millions of people in the semi-arid tropics (SAT). Empowering people for drought preparedness is now viewed as the best strategy to cope with these hardships, with information and knowledge being key components for success. Over the years, CGIAR Centers, such as ICRISAT, have accumulated the necessary know-how to significantly empower these people.

ICRISAT, together with ILRI and IWMI, proposed to establish a system for innovative knowledge sharing with regard to drought preparedness through a Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT) involving advances in ICTs coupled with ODL approaches. The aim was to provide an opportunity for globally dispersed communities of drought-related experts to come together virtually to help generate information and knowledge that could be locally applied by stakeholders.

VASAT created information modules on drought literacy; collaborated with a local community radio to deliver information via satellite digital radio technology to rural communities in Niger; and established an Internet-connected information hub that supports three village access points in India. VASAT ‘s website was also reorganized to allow online learning resources to be accessed granularly rather than in packages. The Academy  made waves when it became a finalist at the CGIAR’s Innovation Marketplace for CSO-CGIAR collaboration.

Lead Administrative Center

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Project Coordinators

V Balaji, Head of the Information Resource Management Office, (ICRISAT) and Rex Navarro, Head of the Communications Office and Special Assistant to the DG (ICRISAT)

Project Documents

Virtual Academy for the Semi-Arid Tropics (VASAT) – Project report 2006