Capacity development and innovative communication

GA Duran
Outcomes & Impacts

Costa Rica adopts digital emergency response system in wake of Hurricane Otto

Latin America
Priorities and Policies for CSA
Climate Services and Safety Nets

We all know that extreme weather events – droughts, floods, and hurricanes – cause enormous damage. In Costa Rica, extreme events have negatively impacted food production, and the country is taking action to protect its agricultural production and food security.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is responsible for the government’s agricultural emergency response to such extreme climatic events. In the past, the Ministry was unable to respond quickly to such emergencies because it lacked access to local, reliable and timely agro-climatic information to make decisions.

Throughout 2015, Bioversity International, a CGIAR Research Centre, engaged with the Ministry to showcase its work on agro-climatic risk management undertaken as part of CCAFS’ AgroClimas program in Guatemala and to demonstrate its relevance for Costa Rica.

In response to flooding in late 2015, Bioversity successfully piloted a digital system for emergency response data collection and decision-making in partnership with local government in Siquirres. This joint effort built mutual trust among partners and helped validate the system in Costa Rica.

In the wake of Hurricane Otto in November 2016, the Ministry was eager to scale up the pilot. Officials visited farms throughout the country to assess hurricane damage, and were able to collect and send data through a mobile application – the app allowed them to locate farms via GPS and send data to Bioversity servers in real time. Together with the Ministry, Bioversity created a national-scale system that was able to document US$57 million in agricultural losses and help build a detailed response plan in “record time”.

A mobile application allowed government officials in Costa Rica to collect and send data in real time.

The investment in this new digital system helped the government integrate agro-climatic information in its decision-making, allowing for more in-depth data analysis and significantly reducing its emergency response time.

"We are working with our partners on studies about the damage produced by different climate events and formulation of strategies for adapting the agriculture. Usually there is an immediate response in giving support and aid to farmers when a climatic event happens,” explained Dr. Jacob van Etten, the Bioversity International Costa Rica Office coordinator, at the signing of the Technical Cooperation Agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture of Costa Rica in Turrialba in May 2016. “But a strong long-term plan is urgently required because these events are becoming more frequent".


  • Bioversity International
  • International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), Columbia University
  • Costa Rica: Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, agricultural extension agents

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