15 February 2013, Geneva, Switzerland - As the attention of the international community turns once again to the importance of building resilience through capacity development, UNOSAT and IGAD have launched into a project to do just that, with a practical focus on the use of geospatial technologies to improve disaster reduction in East Africa.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (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. IGAD countries are at high risk of drought and several natural hazards and often the theatre of crisis and conflict. The management of IGAD and UNITAR are working together to leverage the know-how of UNOSAT, with the support of the Norwegian government, to develop the capacity of the organization and its members to use GIS and remote sensing to enhance planning, emergency preparedness, and prevention across the region.
UNOSAT has been active in similar regional projects in South East Asia since 2011, and has initiated work in East Africa, together with IGAD, in January 2013. The capacity development plan for IGAD focuses on technical training courses, development of specific hazard databases, and awareness for IGAD decision makers.
Einar Bjorgo at UNOSAT says, “Our common goal is to do something concrete to improve disaster risk reduction in the region by mainstreaming the use of this technology in various thematic areas and to ensure that strategic decision making is done also on the basis of objective geographic information and analysis coming from the organization and its member countries."
The project is under way and advancing fast. A steering committee meeting took place in Addis Ababa in January, where a detailed training plan was agreed upon. Similarly to UNOSAT in-country projects, this activity uses a results-based management approach that allows UNOSAT experts and the beneficiary to monitor progress and impact as activities are implemented. UNOSAT has also hired one expert based in Nairobi to help follow the implementation from within the region while also providing direct support to the IGAD Secretariat and its components, which will draw additional benefits from the project, like the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC).
Bjorgo explains, “We are developing better knowledge-sharing and capacity development tools all the time and these are next generation projects in which we privilege synergy, partnership, and multiple benefits for each investment of time and money that we make with our donors and beneficiaries."
In East Africa, UNOSAT also works with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) for better training and data sharing, and the new Technical University of Kenya.
Photo 1: The Steering Committee of the project meets in Addis Ababa
Photo 2: UNOSAT experts and IGAD staff during one of the consultations in the region.