GIS and Remote Sensing for disaster risk reduction: IGAD experts complete UNOSAT refresher course

25 July 2014, Nairobi, Kenya. 14 technical experts working at the IGAD Secretariat and its specialized programmes including the Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) and IGAD-Somalia, completes successfully a one week specialised refresher training on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing applications delivered by UNOSAT trainers. The course took place at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi.

The course was designed to reinforce participants’ knowledge and practical skills in the use of GIS and satellite analysis for resilience and risk reduction and to plan prevention measures across the region, based on the understanding that capacity at regional level to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards is fundamental for long term development. The training included modules to refresh GIS concepts, learn how to produce quality thematic maps and how to undertake remote sensing analysis on different satellite images. The training assignments included a SWOT analysis and the review of case scenarios using datasets from past disaster events in the Horn of Africa.

The Director-General of RCMRD, Dr. Hussein Farah, who spoke to participants before the training, thanked UNOSAT for the continuing support in building capacity in the region and underscored the importance of partnership.

This training is part of the second phase of a project aimed at improving geospatial capacity for resilience and risk reduction in the Horn of Africa with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As Roshni Dave, Regional Coordinator and Liaison for UNOSAT, explains: “this project is about much more than training: since the project inception in early 2013, UNOSAT has implemented three technical trainings, developed a geo-database that acts as a common central data storage and management framework for GIS, and carried out several awareness-raising activities for senior decision-makers on the use and benefits of geospatial information technologies for disaster risk reduction”.

Another training focused on building capacity of IGAD member states' focal points is planned for later in 2014. The benefits are becoming more evident with time. Luca Dell’Oro who looks after training and capacity development at UNOSAT, says: “It is exciting for us to see that the skills acquired by IGAD technical staff during the training courses make a real impact on how IGAD implements its specialized programmes each day”.

IGAD is an eight-country regional development organization in the Horn of Africa region, with headquarters in Djibouti. It is a key player in the domains of drought, emergency response, and disaster reduction. RCMRD is an inter-governmental organization dedicated to geo-information with 18 member states in the Eastern and Southern Africa Regions.

Photos: The students with UNOSAT trainers Khaled Mashfiq and Xuanmei Fan and during a lab exercise.