The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) and Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) recently held the first regional workshop for East Africa under phase 2 of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) programme from 28th to 30th September 2022 in Kampala, Uganda.
The main objectives of the 3-day workshop were to engage, dialogue, network, and create awareness of GMES and Africa phase 2 among East African stakeholders, including the private sector, policymakers, academia and end users. The workshop also aimed to raise awareness of the GMES and Africa phase 2 activities at national and regional levels with a focus on the six result areas, including;
- Improved policy and institutional framework for sustainable management of natural resources and climate change based on Space Science and Technology applications;
- Improved access to Earth Observation data and information products on natural resources, environment and climate change in relevant East African institutions;
- Operational information services for policymakers, the private sector and end users for management and monitoring of natural resources and food security;
- Regional and national capacity development of African public institutions, users of GMES services and the private sector to take advantage of EO-based information for water & natural resources applications;
- Improved knowledge management, including cross-fertilisation and;
- Enhanced outreach, uptake and dissemination.
Other objectives included cooperation and joint implementation of activities of common interests such as data access and capacity building for the East African consortia and involvement of Indian Ocean Islands Countries. In addition, the consortia are expected to collect feedback and additional needs on the developed products and services.
Hon. Dr Mary G. Kitutu; the Minister of Karamoja Affairs, Uganda who delivered the keynote speech highlighted the central roles that geospatial science and technology are already playing in daily decision-making, as well as, the national endeavours to attain development goals. The Minister further noted that East Africa suffers from a lack of data, which has led to challenges in measuring the extent of climate change and reiterated that space-based assets, such as satellites, can positively impact climate change management at every phase from monitoring and prediction to mitigation and adaptation – by providing data that enables better-informed decision-making with regard to socio-economic conditions, climate process drivers, climate change indicators, and impacts and vulnerability.
Dr Emmanuel Nkurunziza, Director General, RCMRD said RCMRD has for quite some time been involved in the GMES and Africa and its predecessor forms such as MESA. “The objective has always been the same, and that has been how can we as Africans harness the immense potential provided by geospatial technological developments to help the key sectors in our countries such as the environment and other different services.” He added that the technology is available, however, the challenge is advising the decision-makers.
Speaking for ICPAC, Mr Eugene Kayijamahe, the GMES and Africa Project Manager representing the Director of ICPAC, Dr Guleid Artan, said the workshop aimed at emphasising the need for accurate, timely and reliable information for decision-making in the region. “This region is facing the worst drought and other climate change-related impacts. It is enriching to learn about real cases on which these two consortia are saving lives and resources.”
In his remarks, Dr Tidiane Ouattara, the African Union’s Space Science Expert and GMES & Africa Support Program Coordinator, emphasised the need for collaboration, synergy and cross-fertilisation among the consortia. He also advised the consortia to involve women and youths.
As part of the workshop, Environmental Surveys, Information, Planning and Policy Systems (ESIPPS) facilitated training on Wetlands Vulnerability Analysis (WVA) based on an existing WVA project developed under the GMES and Africa Program supported by the African Union and implemented by the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD). The training invited about 20 participants from all over the continent and was held from 28th – 30th September 2022 at the GIS Centre, Makerere University. The training was hosted by the Department of Geomatics and Land Administration, Makerere University, Kampala in collaboration with ESIPPS. The training disseminated the knowledge and technical skills required to exploit EO and GIS methodology, data and tools in wetland vulnerability monitoring and assessment to promote a more sustainable long-term management of wetland resources in Africa.
The regional workshop serves as a platform for elevating discussions with partners, stakeholders and users on project impacts at the regional level. They are also designed for engaging policy and decision-makers as well as other actors in dialogue and networking, discussing cooperation and joint implementation of activities of common interests for the East African consortia, and collecting feedback and further needs on the developed products and services. The workshop participants included the following countries; Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania & Uganda.
Ayooluwa Adetola is a writer and editor at Space in Africa. She loves to share scientific information using the simplest words possible. When she’s not in front of a screen, she can be found with her nose buried in a book.