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The MLWE: Working Towards Capacity Building and Assessment

By :- Ruth Abraham

In cooperation with the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) under the umbrella of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa), the MLWE conducted a needs assessment workshop at Crystal Hotel this week. The workshop that run for two days, 18th and 19th October, was attended by local experts from various institutions in Eritrea and was led by Mr. Teddy Mwangi and Mr. Stephen Sande, experts from RCMRD-Kenya, representing the 13 regional members in Africa.

Mr. Stephen Sande

RCMRD is one of the 13 successful consortia of institutions selected by the African Union Commission (AUC) to serve as regional implementing centers for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) support program. GMES and Africa is a continuation of the series of consortiums that have been established in the past on different intervals that began in 2001. RCMRD implements three applications: land degradation monitoring and assessment, wet lands monitoring and assessment, open geographical regional reference vector and database for water and agro-ecological zoning.

RCMRD’ project objective is to improve and build African policy makers’, planners’, scientists’, government and private sectors’ and citizens’ capacities to design, implement and monitor national, regional and continental policies and to promote sustainable management of natural resources through the use of earth observation (EO) data and derived information.

The general objective of RCMRD is to provide decision makers and end users with information and tools that would support effective resources management and use. And the specific objectives are to raise public awareness about the critical role of Earth Observation (EO) in sustainable development, strengthen regional and national capacities to generate and apply EO-based information, contribute to the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy, in particular on EO.

The general activities that the RCMRD performs for the GMES & Africa include accessing EO data and providing new data; training stakeholders, conducting research and disseminating results; and establishing a monitoring and evaluation framework. In addition, the organization conducts a lot of capacity building and development projects across the member states.

RCMRD was designed to specifically respond to African needs with respect to services related to water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas and to address the global needs to manage the environment, mitigate climate change and ensure civil security. Moreover, it aims to enable the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy, formulated to harness the continent’s capabilities to utilize space science and technology for economic growth and sustainable development. In the implementation agreement, the AUC is the delegated authority responsible for the management of the program

In an interview, Mr. Teddy Mwangi said that they came to Eritrea for the implementation of phase two of the GMES and Africa project. He said, “This particular project of GMES and Africa spearheads the African policies and strategies, and the aim of the project is to engage with stakeholders and to take the needs assessment of specific thematic areas.”

The thematic areas that the workshop looked at are land degradation, monitoring and assessment, wet land monitoring and assessment, and open geographic reference vector database. “We are basically here to engage with the users to have a better understanding of the needs of that part of the structure in the country, and give services that are oriented best on the needs of these particular institutions in this country.” Mr. Mwangi added.

RCMRD was established in Kenya in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The mandate of RCMRD is to head the spacial technology to the member states. The GMES is mandated to ensure that the African countries are able to use space technology to improve the performance and wellbeing of their people and ensure development in general.

GMES’s specific objective is to ensure that space technology is adopted by the African countries to help people manage and monitor their land better and make good use of it. Another objective is to provide data using the geo portals at RCMRD. There is funding from the EU and the AU which are mostly aimed at building capacities of local institutions in the 45 African countries so they have enough knowledge and expertise in handling environmental issues of water resources, wetland and land degradation.

Mr. Aman Saleh

The workshop was mostly aimed at harnessing the uses of geo-information, and Eritrea is one of the countries that are taking part. The experts have come to Eritrea to look at how Eritrea is tapping into the resource and, by doing that, to assess its specific needs and to see what can be provided in the direction of developing the sector and how the MLWE is functioning in terms of resource management. Once the assessment is done, the data is to be refined to help develop projects that fill in the gaps, Mr. Aman Saleh, director of the Information and Campaigning Center at the MLWE, said.

RCMRD gives member African countries technical support and technological equipment. Eritrea is a contracting member and one part of the discussions at the workshop looked at how Eritrea can become a full-time member state. The workshop tried to sensitize the Eritrean experts and their needs to try to match their needs with the application of the technology which is a powerful tool in the management of resources.

“The Eritrean people have been very positive in receiving these packages. And the Eritrean government has also been quite receptive and understanding,” Mr. Stephen Sande said at the end of his interview with the local press.

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