MoHERST hosts workshop on The Role of Geospatial Technologies in Sustainable Development

The Ministry of Higher Education, in partnership with The United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries and The UN Institute for Training and Research - Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNITAR-UNOSAT) on Monday, 2nd November, convened a one-day workshop geared towards demystifying geospatial technologies and raising awareness on the important role they can play to support The Gambia’s development efforts.

The workshop targeted policy-makers and practitioners in The Gambia who can greatly benefit from the data revolution to better shape management strategies and to make more informed data-driven decisions.

In his opening remark, The Director of Science and Technology of MoHERST, Muctarr MY Darboe, welcomed participants to the workshop and further reiterated the UN Secretary General’s call for a revolution in the use of data for sustainable development. According to him, geospatial information technologies have a significant role to play in addressing challenges dealing with climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction and management.  

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the representative from the UN Technology Bank, Moshe Kao, who doubles as Programme Management Consultant, expressed gratitude to the government of The Gambia for making the workshop a possibility amidst challenges posed by the COVID-19.

He went on to state that the Technology Bank, together with their partner UNITAR are enhancing the capacity of experts and policymakers on the interpretation, utilization and use of geospatial technology for development.

According to Mr. Kao, the workshop is part of a pilot programme that has involved Uganda, The Gambia and Mozambique, wherein participants are provided with the skills and knowledge needed to leverage geospatial technology for improved disaster risk management, climate change and natural resource management.

“Last week, over 20 participants were trained from the different ministries across The Gambia on this program” he informed, adding “it is important to highlight that effective rapid response to disasters such as floods, landslides and many other disasters can reduce the loss of lives as well as mitigate structural damages in immediate aftermaths of these events”.

Mr. Kao expatiated that for emergency response teams to access timely, accurate and essential information, is very critical.

“Satellite imagery is a rich source of information that can pinpoint regions most affected by disasters. One of these tools is remote sensing of flood analysis which is typically semi-automated to remove the timely and manual component of trying to analyze the data. And by leveraging science and technology, countries have a greater chance of empowering the most vulnerable communities,” he stated.

For Permanent Secretary of MoHERST, Mod A K Secka, it has been globally accepted that the successful implementation of any government policy or program is greatly linked to a quality skill set up of staff and human resources implementing such programmes.

In that regard, Mr. Secka delineated that the workshop is in line with the government’s target of having an informed and skillful human resource that will effectively and efficiently implement The National Development Plan, which spans from 2018-2021 and the key priority programme in The National Science Technology and Innovation Policy, which spans from 2015-2024.

“It is expected that the knowledge, best practices and technologies learned in this workshop will go a long way in supporting the implementation of sectoral policies and programmes relative to geospatial technologies and resilience to climate change and related disasters in The Gambia,” he stated.

The Senior Programme Specialist at UNITAR, Luca Dell’oro, expressed profound gratitude to The Director of Science and Technology of MoHERST for the “excellent support” provided in organizing the previous technical experts training and the policy-makers’ workshop. Mr. Dell’oro likewise extended his appreciation to The Capacity Development Expert from UNITAR, Marisol Lopez Meda, for the lectures and knowledge sharing.