Developing disaster resilience capacities to natural hazards in West Africa

Source(s): United Nations Satellite Centre United Nations Institute for Training and Research

In September, UNOSAT hosted the Regional Technical Webinar Series on Flood Forecasting, Early Warning Systems and Geospatial Information Technology (GIT) for Flood Risk Management for ECOWAS member states. This is part of a wider effort to support the ECOWAS region in building resilience to the flood events it is facing.

In the past weeks, UNOSAT’s rapid mapping services were requested for flood events in Burkina FasoCabo Verde and Niger, three ECOWAS member states. Disastrous floods caused by heavy monsoon rains are not only occurring in these countries but in the wider west African region. From June to September, the monsoon season has been increasingly characterized by high intensity rainfall occurring over short periods of time. When combined with high vulnerability indexes and fragile contexts, many people are then exposed to physical insecurity, economic loss and displacement.

UNOSAT’s rapid mapping services often support the post disaster response. Our team monitors the region closely, in support to national governments and other international organizations in their emergency response activities. In an effort to reduce the impact of disastrous event in working also on prevention, we have partnered with regional actors to provide numerous capacity development activities These learning activities support the ECOWAS member states  in developing their capacities using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) for flood risk management.

“From this training, I have learned the important of using Geospatial Information Technology for flood forecasting purposes” - webinar participant

The Regional Technical Webinar Series on Flood Forecasting, Early Warning Systems and GIT for Flood Risk Management, was delivered from 14th to 21st of September and targeted national officials from the ECOWAS member states and aimed to demonstrate best practices, applications and tools.

Through a week of online webinars, presentations and assignments, the participants are now able to conduct country-specific geospatial data collection, processing, analysis, and interpretation, recall data entry processes into GIS for flood risk mapping, recall basic concept and terminology of GIS and Remote Sensing (including geospatial methodologies for flood impact analysis), describe geospatial methodology for flood impact analysis, and undertake hydrological and hydraulic modelling for flood forecasting purposes.

“Despite the travel restrictions due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to deliver this training in a flexible format, that allowed participants to access the content from any location within the ECOWAS region and interact with the facilitators to get more insights. From the feedback collected, this was much appreciated by the participants”  Luca Dell’Oro, Senior Programme Specialist, DRR/M and Climate Resilience Section, UNOSAT

This webinar series was jointly organised and implemented by UNOSAT, the West African Science Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), the Water Research Institute (WRI), The Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), HKV and AGRHYMET. This was part of the capacity development activities of the Building Disaster resilience in Sub Saharan Africa program, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), financed by the European Union and implemented by the World Bank. This course built on previous trainings delivered as part of this same programme: in 2018, a technical training was conducted in Lomé, Togo, in august 2019, an e-learning moderated course was implemented in April 2020, followed by an e-learning self-paced course in June 2020.

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