By Adlyne Wangusi
Nairobi’s Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) hosts the regional mapping conference from 15th to 17th August 2018.
Geared to spur the exchange of ideas on fast-tracking application of Earth observation (satellite data) and geospatial technologies in development decision making, the conference seeks to answer the question as to “how the earth observation information could be used to effectively address problems that impact livelihoods in Africa and science policy linkages.”
Farida Karoney, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning said it was gratifying to see delegates from various Earth Observation fields from around the world converging in Nairobi-based RCMRD to exchange notes on the current state of development in the area of space science and how these advancements can be harnessed for the benefit of mankind.
The CS said the choice of the theme of this year’s conference as ‘Space Science for Sustainable Development’ couldn’t be timelier. “This year (2018), the world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space at a time when every nation is pre-occupied with the implementation of the SDGs and working out mechanisms for tracking their realization. The role of space science and technologies can play in both implementation and be tracking the SDGs is undoubted and I am glad this conference is going to explore and deliberate this further.”
The RCMRD Director-general Emmanuel Nkurunziza said the conference was a platform meant to bridge the gap between science and policy, promote innovation and sharing of technological experience and knowledge. “The theme for RIC 2018 is Space Science for Sustainable Development, and we do hope to learn more about how to align our services with SDGs.”
Karoney added that the government of Kenya considers earth observations and space science products and applications as critical in implementing its Big Four agenda, manufacturing in agriculture and food security, access to health and affordable housing by all Kenyans.
“In all these endeavors, land remains a critical resource whose proper management can only be enhanced by understanding it better through its mapping and having the right policies for its administration in place,” she said.
RCMRD through the SERVIR partnership, USAID and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are using Earth Observation Information to improve environmental management and resilience to climate change through regional institutions supported by the SERVIR global network.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) project scientist for SERVIR, Dr. Ashutosh Limaye said, SERVIR brings NASA’s scientific and technical know-how to help developing countries use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies for managing climate risks and land use.
Rwanda High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. James Kimonyo said the theme of the Conference, ‘Space Science for Sustainable Development’ was timely and most appropriate. “It addresses RCMRD member States in particular and Africa’s most pressing needs – namely accelerating the pace of poverty reduction, narrowing income gaps by increasing labor productivity and generating more decent and productive jobs.” He added that the critical imperatives can only be achieved by strengthening Africa’s implementation of SDGs.
Kimonyo said the centrality of land in the development process cannot be overemphasized “This conference is going to be a great occasion to connect efforts of the scientific community with the needs of society. I wish to reiterate that Rwanda is one of the beneficiaries of scientific efforts of earth observations.”
Funded by USAID, with scientific and technical support from NASA, SERVIR-Eastern and Southern (SERVIR-E&SA) is being implemented by RCMRD.