19 April 2013, Nairobi, Kenya - UNOSAT and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have started the implementation of their new DRR partnership project with one inaugural training course on Geographic Information Systems for Disaster Risk Reduction. The two-week course was hosted at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi and ended today. The training forms part of a larger UNOSAT-IGAD partnership project on the use of geospatial technologies to improve DRR in East Africa.

The partnership project is designed to develop the capacity of the organization and its associated centres- the Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), and the Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD)- to use GIS and remote sensing to enhance planning, emergency preparedness, and prevention across the region. This will contribute to reducing disaster risks for vulnerable communities in the region. The initiative is also a testing ground for UNOSAT new strategic approach named GEODRR (GIS and Earth Observation for Disaster Risk Reduction). 

The initiative is supported by the government of Norway. Norway has been collaborating with UNOSAT in the area of DRR also in South East Asia since 2010.

The first training for IGAD countries was attended by 18 selected experts from the region and was opened by the Director General of RCMRD Dr. Hussein Farah and by Professor Laban Ogallo, Director of ICPAC. Dr. Hussein Farah underscored the importance of strategic partnerships and said that the training would be essential for enabling the practical use of GIS tools in the workplace. RCMRD has substantial experience in disaster risk reduction and disaster management and has worked with the United Nations as well as IGAD to promote sustainable development through the application of geo-information.

Professor Ogallo applauded the support provided by RCMRD, UNOSAT, and the Norwegian government in a region facing multiple challenges such as conflict, a growing population, environmental degradation, as well as climate change. “This UNOSAT training can strengthen the capacity of all the IGAD centres, address the problems we face and bring new development in the region,” said Professor Ogallo.

Speaking to the type of training provided to IGAD and its member states, Luca Dell’Oro of UNOSAT explained: “We are starting an important development of capacity in the technical domain of GIS. This event is not a stand-alone training, it is part of a continuous learning process aimed at ensuring capacity is developed over the long-term and much needed skills are in put in place to enable better decisions and action at the regional level for the benefit of local communities.”

UNOSAT Manager Einar Bjorgo said: “This initiative in partnership with IGAD has a strategic value for us. It is the confirmation of our growing engagement in DRR. We work to help concretely those countries who want to implement the principles of the Hyogo Framework for Action. Due to its importance, we decided to run the programme from within the region and I appointed a technical liaison expert who moved to Nairobi earlier this month.”

IGAD is an eight-country regional development organization in East Africa 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 and currently has 18 contracting Member States in the Eastern and Southern Africa Regions. Its mission is to provide quality geo-information and allied ICT products and services in environmental and resource management for sustainable development in its member countries and beyond.

For more information, contact unosat@unitar.org.