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MLWE: Developing the capacity of environmental monitoring and risk assessment

The greater horn of Africa, like many parts of the tropics, is prone to extreme climate that cause calamities such as drought and floods.

In most cases, environmental hazards are unpredicted and have the potential to threaten the surrounding natural environment or affect people’s lives, including pollution and natural disasters such as floods, drought and earthquakes. For that reason, many countries are concerned about their environment and make efforts to minimize the negative effects of hazards.

The Ministry of Land, Water and Environment (MLWE), in cooperation with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Intergovernmental Climate Prediction and Application Center (ICPAC), organized training on environmental monitoring and hazard assessment from 25 to 30 November at the Chamber of Commerce, Asmara.

On the opening of the five-day training, Mr. Tesfay Gebreselasie, Minister of MLWE, said that the objective of the training is to develop the capacity of environmental monitoring and risk assessment and conduct early preparation for any eventualities that may occur. Mr. Zachary Atheru, program manager of ICPAC, on his part said that disasters destroy hard earned development gains and shatter livelihoods and that requires integrated effort and scientific approach to address. Mr. Zachary went on to say that the objective of the training is to strength national capacities in environment as well as develop early warning information system.

Environmental monitoring and hazard assessment are important for early warning of the adverse impacts of extreme climate events. The early warning enables the users to put mechanisms in place for coping with extreme climate and weather related risks. Monitoring and assessment of environment hazards are essential and timely mechanisms that help us to control the risk that may occur at national level and worldwide.

Mr. Kiflemariam Sebhatu, disaster monitoring program manager at IGAD, also said that the main object of the training is to strength the capacity of the staff members. He added that the training contains two components, earth observation and assessment of hazards, which help us to know our surroundings and assess the hazards early.

The training includes an introduction to Geographic Information System (GIS), working with baseline data in GIS, theories and concepts of earth observation, drought hazard assessment and flood hazard assessment using data.
As the coordinator of the program, Mr. Aman Saleh, Director of Environmental Information and Awareness Division at the Department of Environment, said that similar training has been given on system administration and thematic application of MESA stations. MESA stations are satellite data receiving and processing systems installed in national institutions mandated with environmental monitoring across the African continent. Mr. Aman added that the training is being provided with more theoretical details and technological tools that can help them do their work with new procedure. Stressing on the importance of the training, Mr. Aman said that such lectures are very helpful and can be applied in different sectors.

Regarding the experts from IGAD, Dr. Ahmed Amdihun, disaster risk assessment specialist, said that the program is basically organized to support the national efforts in terms of building human capacity for Eritrea so that they would be able to do a successful disaster management and disaster reduction. Another trainer, Mr. Eugene Kayijamahe, senior thematic expert, also said that the objective of the training is to equip the Eritrean national staff with the tools and software that they can use to do the monitoring of the environment and disasters.

Mr. Hari Parasad Vajja, a hydrologist who gave a lecture on flood hazards exposure, vulnerability and risk assessment, said, “We are providing the trainers with tools which are freely available in the Internet, so that they can download and map the flood prone areas of the country and assess the risk of people, infrastructure and other communities which are likely to be affected with the flood.”

Mr. Fithi Hagos, a participant at the training from MLWE, said that the training is important in their work because by using technological tools and satellites they can now assess the hazards and make necessary precautions before the occurrence of damage. Ms. Nebila Ali, another participant, also said because of its importance more similar training programs should be given in the future.

Speaking on the achievement of the program, the trainers from ICPAC appreciated the enthusiastic participation of the trainees. Mr. Ahmed Amdihun said that the charismatic young Eritreans are fast learners and they understand the lecture and the software very well and it’s their hope that when they go back to their offices they will contribute to the office functions using these new techniques and tools. The trainers also advised the participants to practice more and become experts in monitoring the environment and assessing the hazards for Eritrea.

At the closing session, Minister Tesfay Gebreselasie expressed his gratitude to the experts who engaged in sharing their knowledge and skills and forwarded his gratefulness to the ICPAC staff members for accepting the request and organizing the workshop and called for continuous collaborative work to enhance human resource capacity. In the end, Minister Tesfay called on the training participants to practically apply the training they received. Certificate of recognition prepared by the ICPAC was given to the participants.

The training that was organized by ICPAC was attended by 42 participants from the ministries of MLWE, Agriculture, Marine Resources as well as the Meteorology Authority, College of Marine Technology, Forestry and Wildlife Authority and others. Similar five-day training was given from 24 to 28 June and was attended by 26 staff members of MLWE.

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