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Strengthening Collaboration for Earth Observation Development in Africa

Strengthening Collaboration for Earth Observation Development in Africa

SERVIR West Africa and GMES & Africa Partnership Takes Center Stage

SERVIR West Africa (SERVIR WA) took part in an important event, the first Continental Forum for the second phase of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security & Africa (GMES) Program in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from November 27 to 30, 2023. This was a significant opportunity for SERVIR WA to contribute and collaborate in shaping the future of the GMES Program.

The meeting brought together approximately 200 professionals with a shared focus on the production and utilization of Earth Observation data.

The main objectives of the Forum were twofold:

  • to discuss achievements and lessons learned from the first two years of GMES Phase 2 & Africa, as well as prospects for the remainder of the program in 2025; and
  • to build on Earth Observation successes by fostering partnerships, involving other stakeholders, and linking with initiatives such as the SERVIR WA Program.

Empowering Earth Observation Communities of Practice

A significant highlight of the event was the high-level panel on Communities of Practice in Earth Observation (EO), held during the morning session on 30 November 2023. This panel, divided into two batches, focused on establishing and maintaining EO service providers and end-users.

Key speakers included: Dr Taibou Ba, Thematic Expert GMES & Africa, African Union Commission (AUC); Dr Paul Bartel, Chief of Party, SERVIR WA; Dr Nsadisa Faka, Coordinator ClimSA; and Mr Semou Diouf, Director, SatNav. Moderated by Mr Souleye Wade, Communication Officer, African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE), the panel addressed the imperative need for inclusive community building in Earth Observation.

Dr Taibou Ba emphasized the participatory nature of community building, involving all stakeholders.

"The aim of these communities is to create an ecosystem that contributes to the implementation of EO practices for sustainable ​ resource management. We need a participatory approach, involving all ​ stakeholders, diagnosing needs and expertise, conducting regular meetings, and building capacity," said Dr Ba.

Dr Paul Bartel highlighted the importance of co-development and sharing within communities of practice.

Citing Senegal as an example, he illustrated how SERVIR WA integrates diverse stakeholders, including pastoralists, NGOs, public radio and more to disseminate information and engage in critical co-development.

Dr Bartel underscored the gravity of data accuracy, especially in scenarios where inaccuracies could have life-altering consequences for decision-makers.

"Discussions often center on the technological and scientific aspects but community involvement is paramount. Co-development, is not just important; it is critical. The focus should extend beyond the creation of data to ensuring standardized, curated, accessible, and well-documented information, along with a clear understanding of its accuracy," Dr Bartel emphasized.

Contributing to the discussion, Dr Nsadisa Faka highlighted the importance of collaboration between EO service providers and end-users, focusing on developing decision support tools and raising awareness about the meaning of GMES and SERVIR West Africa, while Dr Semou Diouf provided recommendations for programs utilizing EO data to enhance the operationalization of their products and services. ​ ​ ​ ​

The ensuing discussions touched on precision and inclusivity in mapping stakeholders, marketing EO to the youth and private sector, and the transition from mandates to markets. Panelists emphasized the importance of awareness and the need for synergies between GMES & Africa and SERVIR West Africa programs.

The panel discussions highlighted the collaborative efforts of both programs with university networks and research centers to develop the skills of young individuals, advocating for more sustainable engagement with universities.

Discussions also occurred on potential partnership opportunities between the SERVIR West Africa Program and GMES & Africa Program to better address the needs of Africans in targeted fields.

Panel discussion during first Continental Forum of the second phase of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security & Africa (GMES) Program. Second (from right), Dr Paul Bartel, Chief of Party, SERVIR WA.
Panel discussion during first Continental Forum of the second phase of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security & Africa (GMES) Program. Second (from right), Dr Paul Bartel, Chief of Party, SERVIR WA.

Contributed by Ms Thioro C. Niang (CSE, Senegal), Dr Paul Bartel (ICRISAT) and Ms Agathe Diama (ICRISAT).

Agathe Diama
Agathe Diama Senior Communications Specialist – West and Central Africa

 

 

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About The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a pioneering International Organization committed to developing and improving dryland farming and agri-food systems to address the challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and environmental degradation affecting the 2.1 billion people residing in the drylands of Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond.

ICRISAT was established under a Memorandum of Agreement between the Government of India and the CGIAR on the 28 March 1972. In accordance with the Headquarters Agreement, the Government of India has extended the status of a specified “International Organisation” to ICRISAT under section 3 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947 of the Republic of India through Extraordinary Gazette Notification No. UI/222(66)/71, dated 28 October 1972, issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

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