Technology to drive better resource management in Africa
Proper resource management is critical for a growing economy. While natural resources may seem plentiful on a continent like Africa, increasing global and local demand and poor management of irreplaceable but essential natural resources could spell disaster for the future.
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in natural resource management, from streamlining to reporting processes. One example can be found in Kenya’s Ngong’ hills, just outside the capital Nairobi. Here, the misty clouds provide dew that helps the grass to grow which in turn feeds the Maasai tribal community’s animals. In addition, the fog generated by these clouds is capable of yielding fresh drinking water to the community thanks to a recently installed fog harvesting plant. The plant, which serves a few households, works by capturing fog in nets and draining the collected droplets of clean water into barrels below. Depending on the density of the fog, the unit can provide enough water for 20 to 40 people daily.
Before this piece of technology, finding water was an arduous daily task for the women of the community who had to walk for miles to reach the nearest water point. The fog harvesting plant is an excellent example of technology at work in aid of sustainability. The plant not only reduces pressure on scarce water resources, it means a better standard of living for community members in a water-scarce country.
Creating a sustainable Africa
Technology is central to the success of the African Monitoring of Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) programme. AMESD addresses the need for improved environmental monitoring to ensure the sustainable management of natural resources in five regions of sub-Saharan Africa. These are areas where economies and livelihoods (especially of the world’s poor) are highly dependent on the environment, renewable resources, and climate variability.
AMESD is a continental-wide project financed by the European Development Fund (EDF) and allocated to the Regional Economic Communities. The project is implemented by the African Union Commission and is expected, during the four years of its existence, to achieve the following results:
- Improved access by African users to existing basic Earth Observation data (i.e. maintenance/upgrade of the receiving stations installed in the framework of the PUMA project).
- Development of regional information services to improve decision making processes by African institutions. In each region, a Regional Implementation Centre (RIC) is responsible for the development and operation of tools and methods to serve a specific thematic area.
- Strengthening of political and policy development frameworks, such as Global Earth Observation (GEO) and Global Monitoring Environment and Security (GMES).
- Development of human resources via i.e. training sessions, staff exchange, and fellowship programmes.
Regional Implementation Centres will be responsible for:
- Management of water resources focusing on environmental aspects of watersheds
- Water management for cropland and rangeland management
- Coastal and marine management
- Agricultural and environmental resource management
Improving access to important technology
The proposed increase in the information management capacity of African regional and national institutions will offer support to decision makers at different levels and facilitate sustainable access to Africa-wide environmental information derived from the Earth Observation technologies.
These technologies will enable African national and regional institutions focusing on environment and natural resources, as well as the continent’s National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, to catch up technologically with their counterparts in Europe, America, and Asia, which have already benefited from the use of operational space technologies in environmental monitoring.
About David Okwara
Africa, African Institutions, agricultural, AMESD, climate variability, development, EDF, European Development Fund, GEO, Global Earth Observation, growing economy, natural resources, policy development, Regional Implementation Centre, renewable resources, resource management, RIC, sub-Saharan Africa, sustainable, technology, water management