How Is GMES & Africa Using Earth Observation To Improve The Lives Of African People? (Part Two)

Dr. Tidiane Ouattara; GMES & Africa Programme Coordinator speaking at the 1st GMES & Africa Forum held in Libreville, Gabon in 2018. Image Source: GMES & Africa

The African Union Commission has been spearheading efforts to tap into the continent’s potential in space technology to improve living conditions across the region. The African Space Policy and Strategy was initiated by the Commission to facilitate the coordination and regulation of Africa’s space activities.

Beyond maintaining Africa’s water and natural resources, GMES and Africa also focuses on the continent’s marine and coastal areas. In this second part of the GMES and Africa series, we highlight each of the agencies working towards actualising the objectives of GMES & Africa in Marine & Coastal Areas with emphasis on the problems they are solving and how they are solving them.

Read: How Is GMES & Africa Using Earth Observation To Improve The Lives Of African People? (Part One)

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) leads the GMES and Africa consortium in Southern and Eastern Africa, covering the Benguela Current Large Marine and Agulhas Somali Current Large Marine Ecosystems. In concert with its partners, it is active in monitoring and forecasting of oceanography, fisheries resource management, coastal ecosystem mapping and monitoring, ship traffic monitoring, and marine weather forecast. The CSIR consortium comprises Benguela Current Commission of Namibia, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association based in Tanzania; the Institute for Marine Sciences of Tanzania, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean; Eduardo Mondlane University of Mozambique, National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa, and the Abalobi Research Group of South Africa

CSIR is deploying a combination of multiple satellite sensors, ocean models and available in-situ data, plus a wide range of data products to address the issues common to its geographical area of coverage. Under CSIR’s auspices, the National Oceans and Coastal Information Management System is a locally relevant and globally cognisant technological solution that supports the ecological conservation and economic potential of South Africa’s oceans and coasts through information and decision support for effective governance. 

CSIR is mobilising regional industry and resource management stakeholders, and through dedicated training for its staff, it contributed to the implementation of new marine environmental monitoring services. The consortium has conducted a regional fisheries service workshop with the JRC as well as regional industry and resource management stakeholders, and is providing support for delivering EUMETCAST terrestrial data feeds into the MarCoSouth Project.

Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI)

The Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) is active in marine and coastal management, fisheries management, enhancement of existing coastal vulnerability index maps, elaboration of coastal vulnerability index maps for new selected areas, and monitoring of vulnerable earmarked sites by combining EO data and field information. MOI also promotes better understanding of marine and coastal ecosystems, monitoring and control of illegal fishing, as well as climate change impact monitoring and forecasting of extreme weather events.

MOI’s is the lead institution for the GMES and Africa consortium covering the Western Indian Ocean and is partnering with the Tanzania Fisheries and Research Institute, Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kenya, Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines of Madagascar, Seychelles Meteorological Authority, and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association of Tanzania.

By way of resolving the issues underpinning its mandate, MOI intends to consolidate and develop applications for the marine and coastal areas services, build on what has already been developed during the erstwhile MESA programme to produce enhanced bulletins using additional earth observation as well as in-situ data, and develop additional algorithms and scripts for interpreting and processing earth observation data. The consortium’s eventual objectives include providing fishers with early warning information on the state of the ocean to protect lives at sea, as well as making data available to the scientific community and relevant stakeholders for decision making such as in cases of coral bleaching, harmful Algal Bloom and storm surges, amongst others.

The University of Ghana

The University of Ghana’s Regional Marine Centre is the lead institution for the GMES and Africa consortium in West Africa, comprising the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research, Centre Universitaire De Recherche d’Application en Télédétection of Cote d’Ivoire, Institut de Recherches Halieutiques et Océanologiques du Bénin, Centre for Oceanographic Research of Dakar-Thiaroye in Senegal, Ghana Meteorological Agency, National Institute for Fisheries Development of Cape Verde, and Wetlands International Africa (based in Senegal).

The University of Ghana consortium deals with forecasting of physical and biological oceanographic variables, information on ocean processes that impact fishing, and safety of fishes. It has been working on solutions to provide effective analyses, daily and seasonal forecasts, as well as raise public awareness on the critical role of earth observation in sustainable development. It is also utilising a GMES and Africa marine and coastal areas web portal deployed for West Africa.

So far, the University of Ghana consortium has succeeded in developing monthly biological and physical bulletins disseminated via the internet to beneficiaries, updating maps of potential fishing zones with fishing hotspots, and providing information on ocean states via SMS and location flags to fishers. It has also completed a survey on the operational status of the MESA stations.

The University of Ghana consortium is working towards consolidating EO marine services within the West Africa region developed under the Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) initiative. It is committed to enhancing the capacities of regional and national institutions to utilise EO services. The consortium also hopes to establish a collaborative network among national, regional, and relevant continental institutions to ensure easily accessing of data for the coastal and marine environment.

National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS)

Egypt’s National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS) is the leader of the GMES and Africa consortium covering 6,000 kilometres of the North African coastline. It is focused on the monitoring and forecasting of physical and biological oceanography variables, coastal vulnerability and coastal ecosystems mapping, monitoring and assessment. NARSS delivers its mandate by estimating some parameters from satellite images on a routine basis, mapping of sources of pollution to marine water, and establishing a classification index, conducting vulnerability and risk assessment.

From the outset, NARSS organised a kick-off meeting bringing all partners together. It has mapped harbours and conducted studies on their interaction with the marine environment. It also mapped the Northern African marine region from satellite images.

Results of the NARSS project will produce maps of the vulnerability of ecosystems to both natural and environmental hazards, including climate change. It will provide APIs and tools to generate services to the stakeholders, beneficiaries and end users, and equally produce regular and updated maps of the physical coastal ecosystems. The NARSS project will aid local authorities and planners in maximising the benefits they derive from coastal resources and the community of ecosystems. This will also help in preserving these ecosystems for future generations. 

Partners in the NARSS consortium include: the Centre for the Environment for the Arab Region and Europe, Inter-governmental Organisation for Arab Region and North Africa (based in Egypt), the Centre d’ Etudes et de Recherche des Télécommunications de Tunisia, Chouaib Doukkali University in Morocco, and the Resource Development and Studies at the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Mauritania.




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