UN Technology Bank & UNITAR-UNOSAT enhance geospatial technologies for disaster management in Mozambique

Mr. Joshua Setipa, UN Technology Bank's Managing Director at the workshop on enhancing geospatial technologies for the disaster management in Mozambique.

The United Nations Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – UNOSAT convened a workshop in Mozambique to enhance the capacity of expert and policymakers on the interpretation and utilisation of geospatial technologies.

The workshop aimed to demystify geospatial technologies and raising awareness of the vital role of supporting Mozambique’s development efforts.  It was a part of a pilot programme, which was earlier also organized in Uganda and The Gambia and provided participants with the skills and knowledge to leverage geospatial technologies for improved disaster risk reduction management, climate change, and natural resources management.

The workshop in Mozambique compliments a one-week training course in which local experts were trained in the use and interpretation of satellite imagery with a specific focus on disaster risk management. The newly developed tool by UNITAR uses artificial intelligence (AI) for responding to floods and mudslides can now be used in providing flood impacts estimates (i.e., sq km of flood extent, number of floods affected people by province) in Mozambique. The use of this tool forms part of the on-going training of experts that started last week.

“The use of artificial intelligence (AI) presents an opportunity for the policy- and decision-makers to retrieve valuable situational information from a huge amount of relevant information that is crucial to identifying and deciding on the type of response in a post-disaster response scenario such as after, Cyclone Idai in 2019,” said Mr Joshua Setipa, UN Technology Bank’s Managing Director.

Using satellite imagery to map the geographic extent of floods allows government agencies and regional and international organizations to pinpoint regions most affected by disasters and reduce the loss of life and mitigate structural damages in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Mr. Setipa also emphasized, “as disaster and emergencies are highly dynamic and are characterized by substantial environmental and economic loss, human lives are consequently at stake. The advances in information technology have made significant amounts of data available to the decision-makers for disaster preparedness to enable timely and efficient responses during periodic cyclones, droughts, floods, and related epidemics in Mozambique.

The National Director for ICT and Projects, Mr Constantino Sotomane, stated that “the government of Mozambique and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education have prioritized the use of geospatial technologies.  The Ministry expects a multiplier effect of the ongoing training of twenty Mozambicans that will share their newly acquired geospatial knowledge and tools with other colleagues in the economic and social areas connected with the management and use of geospatial data.”

Mr Luca Dell’Oro, Senior Specialist from UNOSAT-UNITAR highlighted “the key role of EO technology to support with evidence-based data and information operational planning and decision making following major disaster events.” During the workshop, Mr Dell’Oro also presented a new custom-tailored operational flood detection platform based on AI and developed by the UNOSAT team. “This platform aims to support National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) in Mozambique and other national stakeholders with near real-time satellite-derived analysis and statistics about potential flood events during the current rainy season (from October 2020 to April 2021).”

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