The 6th African Earth Observation community (AfriGEO) Symposium ended on November 1 in Accra, Ghana. The two-day programme was organised on the theme "Theme: Harnessing EO towards resilient and sustainable systems, communities and resources."
Over 500 participants attended the symposium that was held as a side event of this year’s GEO Week that convened government institutions, academic and research institutions, data providers, businesses, engineers, scientists, media and experts to create innovative solutions to global challenges at a time of exponential data growth, human development, and climate change that transcend national and disciplinary boundaries.
AfriGEO is an initiative of the African community in the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO), aimed at providing a coordination framework and platform for Africa’s participation in GEO. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO), an intergovernmental partnership of more than 100 countries plus the European Commission, promotes the extensive use of earth observations (EO) data, information, and knowledge for research, policy, decisions, and action.
AfriGEO symposiums are held annually since 2016. They provide an opportunity for the AfriGEO Community to engage, connect and build meaningful areas of collaboration that support addressing development challenges on the continent using earth observation.
Speakers at the Group on Earth Observation event in Accra, Ghana underlined that Earth Observation data can help address persistent and emerging global threats, unlock climate finance and enhance national planning capacities.
Participants at the 6th AFRIGEO Symposium
The event was also designed as an opportunity for knowledge exchange, learning and international collaboration and comprised of the plenary-decision-making sessions. The 6th AfriGEO symposium was organised by the Secretariat and the GEO Secretariat in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI); Ghana Statistical Service (GSS); the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), as well as the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI).
The Chief Director of MESTI, Cynthia Asare Bediako, speaking at the opening, charged the participants to take major decisions that would help protect the natural environment of member countries. According to her, the planned policies and programmes, when followed, coupled with change of attitude towards the natural vegetation, would put an end to land degradation, pollution of water bodies and digging every part of land.
The Chief Director of MESTI, Cynthia Asare Bediako
She assured of governments resolve to implement any decision taken at the end of the conference in order to prevent disaster befalling the continent.
Dr. Robinson Mugo, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Emmanuel Nkurunziza, the Director General, Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development, and the current AFRI GEO Secretariat, attributed the achievements of the group to the resilience of members who have worked very hard in capacity building and membership drive, increasing their numbers, and continuing to play that role.
Dr. Robinson Mugo, SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa Project Manager
During the second day of the 6th symposium, participants attended the launch of the second phase of SERVIR West Africa combined with six recipients of the SERVIR West Africa Small Innovation Grant grants’ award ceremony, as well as the launch of the Africa Data Capacity Accelerator for Climate & Health in partnership. Participants witnessed the launch of the second phase of SERVIR West Africa, a joint initiative of NASA and USAID, which uses EO to assess water resources in water-scarce regions in West Africa, assists in agriculture planning and tracks water resources for herders and pastoralist communities.
The 6 award recipients
During the launch, Jo Lesser-Oltheten, Director of West Africa Mission, USAID, underlined the importance of SERVIR’s use of cutting-edge data to provide solutions to 21st Century problems.
SERVIR West Africa Phase 2 Launch
Dr. Lawrence Friedl the Director of the Applied Sciences Program within the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters said the agency is excited about all the many innovations and achievements this new phase will achieve. “Together with people and institutions in the region, SERVIR West Africa 2 will lead to bigger and better ways geospatial and earth science information benefits the region, building on the successes of the first phase,” he noted.
Dr. Lawrence Friedl the Director of the Applied Sciences Program within the Earth Science Division at NASA
Hosted by the AfriGEO Symposium, Davis Adieno, of Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), introduced the launch of the Africa Data Capacity Accelerator for Climate & Health in partnership with data.org’s Capacity Accelerator Network. Ronda Zelezny-Green, Capacity Accelerator Network at data.org, introduced the Network noting its support for data to enhance social impact. She stressed that data.org works to increase data capacity, using the data commons and identifying best practices for social impact.
Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) launched the Africa Data Capacity Accelerator for Climate and Health, in partnership with data.org’s Capacity Accelerator Network (L-R) Ronda Železný-Green, data.org, and Davis Adieno, GPSDD
During the closing session of AfriGEO, Zelezny-Green stressed that “we cannot afford not to do this data work” because it is the bedrock for climate action, Indigenous Peoples issues, healthcare, disaster risk reduction, and agriculture, among others. Amos Kabo-bah, Acting Dean for the International Relations Office, University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), called on all stakeholders to work together to transform decision-making processes through EO.
The week ended with training on monitoring and early warning for floods held on November 4 and 5, 2022. This training brought together partners: SERVIR Science and Coordination Office and SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa hub, Spatial Informatics Group (SIG) and Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa) through the partnership of AfriGEO and Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) to deliver the training that aimed to introduce various geospatial data infrastructure options available to researchers and decision-makers and to explore uses of different Earth observation tools to address floods challenges experienced all over Africa.
Dr. David Saah on Overview of Geospatial Data Infrastructure
The objectives of the training were to improve the awareness of different stakeholders of different geospatial data infrastructure options and Earth observation tools, as well as increase their capacity to use different tools available for monitoring floods and to inform early action and preparedness.
Calvince Wara Talks about the Tool Highlight: SERVIR E&SA
The training was further aimed at understanding of community challenges related to floods; introduce decision-makers to different geospatial data infrastructure options available; improve the awareness of stakeholders on available tools for flood monitoring and flood early warning: HYDRAFloods, GEOGloWS-CBFEWS, ECMWF and WOfS, improve their capacity on the use of existing tools for decision making using showcases: HYDRA Floods; DE Africa Tools for Flood mapping; value of data integration of In-situ and EO data to supplement existing data gaps; use of SAR data in mapping spatial extent of floods; integration with biophysical data (population, infrastructure, housing, health facilities, WASH facilities) to make analysis of resources and people affected and linkages with forecast based financing.
Monitoring and Early Warning for Floods Training Participants