Malawi: National agencies develop national hazards and vulnerability atlas

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), the Department of Surveys, the National Statistics Office and other national stakeholders have partnered with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), with support from the SERVIR program to develop a comprehensive national hazards and vulnerability atlas covering the whole of Malawi.

The atlas and GIS database are identified as part of key result areas by the government of Malawi in its National Disaster Risk Management Policy to support disaster risk reduction in the country and prioritize areas for resilience building in Malawi. Moreover, through the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) support, maps are being prepared for five climate change vulnerable districts namely: Karonga, Kasungu, Nsanje, Chikwawa and Salima.

A three-day workshop was held in Lilongwe 29 June – 3 July, 2015, to present the products developed by RCMRD experts in partnership with national experts, to a larger expert panel and to validate the developed maps that will form part of the national atlas and the wallmaps for the five districts. Read proceedings here.

Namibia: Statistics Agency extends technical assistance to Ethiopia on census-mapping

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA)’s recognition as among the models of innovation in statistical production in Africa has seen the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA) requesting and receiving technical assistance from NSA to lend the agency a total of 220 personal digital assistants for use in census mapping pilot and main project in preparation for Ethiopia’s fourth national population and housing census in 2017.

Further the NSA has also availed two Geo-Information System (GIS) experts from its Division of Spatial Data and National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) to train Ethiopia CSA staff on census mapping using the devices during a 10-day pilot project. To this effect, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Ethiopia CSA and the NSA on the June 4, 2015.

Commenting on this collaboration, Liina Kafidi, the acting Statistician-General of NSA said: “The gesture is part of the South-to-South cooperation with our sister agencies in Africa and NSA’s contribution towards the harmonisation of data collection methods and statistics in Africa in general. We at NSA perceive this as a capacity building initiative not only of our staff, but the two agencies can learn a lot from each other in many statistical dimensions.

“South-to-South cooperation is imperative in fostering mutual support or inter-dependence regarding statistical development among developing countries in order to inform policy leading to especially positive socio-economic development. The NSA has embarked upon a deliberate effort to become prominent in championing African statistics and this gesture would set the right tone.”

She further said the two GIS experts are Namibians and are gaining international exposure and expertise which shows that Namibia could also export skills, which is critical for the country’s own development and self-determination. The NSA is becoming a major player in statistical collection and production not only in Namibia but on the African continent. The agency has in its short period of existence refined its methodology for data collection by archiving time consuming paper-based methods and introduced modern and computerised methods for timely, accurate and reliable production of statistics to support evidence-based development planning.

Representatives of ECOWAS countries in Lomé for the establishment of geospatial data infrastructure

Thirty national directors of mapping agencies from countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were in Lomé July 13-14, 2015 to make cartographic production more flexible and to advance geospatial data infrastructure.

Opened by the Director General of mapping in the Ministry of Urban Planning, Housing and the living environment, Koffi Dakey, in the presence of the Ambassador of Senegal to Togo, Tall Fall, and the Permanent Representative of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Garba Lompo, this two-day meeting was organized under the framework of the Vision 2020 of ECOWAS to improve how mapping agencies play their full part in achieving the Vision 2020.

Digital maps now find application in many sectors such as national planning, land management, the environment, natural resources, health, transport, and market studies. It is also an activity recognized as a fundamental infrastructure, along with physical infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications and other utilities.

Vision 2020 will contribute substantially to improving the quality and the amount of collected information for a better assessment of development planning and the environment of peace and security of ECOWAS countries. The director of early warning, Dr. Gueye Abdou Lat, recalled that Togo is one the first countries to realize its digital mapping to 1:50,000. “Today in many of our countries, if we talk about mapping, it is about maps that date back to colonial times, and while there are many who have made efforts [to improve the situation], much remains to be done. The technology today allows us to very quickly make maps from a satellite image at very large scale. Therefore, ECOWAS will support countries that are behind, for us to try to harmonize the mapping very quickly,” he said.

Nigeria: Spotlight on Nigerian tech start-up that seeks to identify patterns in traffic chaos

Emmanuel Adegboye attempts to bring order to the chaos of African public transportation systems with his tech startup, Bus Stop. Bus Stop is a transit application for navigating through African cities using public transportation.

In Lagos alone, the current population is estimated at 25 million people and a major percentage of these people rely on public transportation for their daily commute. The problem, however, is that the transportation system (in Lagos) is quite chaotic. Things are never the same. Bus times cannot be accurately predicted (there are actually no bus times!). You just go to the garage or stand at a bus stop hoping to get a bus, bus routes change, new routes open up, prices fluctuate and all of this makes moving around a challenge. It’s even worse when you’re going to a new part of town.

Bus Stop is trying to understand the patterns in the seeming chaos and model the present transport systems so that navigating with an app feels natural and gives you an exact representation of the reality on ground.

Bus Stop is still in development, but it will launch soon starting with Lagos, Nigeria.

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