Drought monitoring for Masvingo province in Zimbabwe: A remote sensing perspective

The research was aimed at analysing and monitoring the seasonal occurrences of drought in Masvingo province of Zimbabwe so as to determine the areas that are prone to drought episodes. The Vegetation Condition Index which shows how close the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index of the current time is to the minimum Normalized Difference Vegetation Index calculated from the long-term record for that given time was used to monitor drought occurrence over the Province. Time series of dekadal SPOT Normalized Difference Vegetation Index images of Masvingo province were also used to compute seasonal Vegetation Condition Index maps from 2005-2010. The resulting Vegetation Condition Index maps were then classified as follows: Severe, Moderate and Mild. Results showed that droughts occur in Masvingo province at least at some place every rainy season but on average the droughts are mild rather than severe or moderate. The occurrence and the spatial distribution of drought in Masvingo was also found to be random but some parts of Chiredzi, Mwenezi and Bikita districts are more frequently beset by severe droughts than any other parts of the province.

Keywords: drought monitoring, Masvingo province, Vegetation Condition Index, remote sensing.