August 13, 2013

West Africa GIS Workshop Shines Light on Women and Climate Change

University students from Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria recently came together for 10 days of training on geospatial technology, through a fellowship program supported by MyCOE/SERVIR, a joint initiative between My Community Our Earth (MyCOE) and the SERVIR satellite-based Earth observation platform of data and imagery. 

Co-funded by NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), SERVIR generates information from space used to help countries prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change and natural and manmade disasters. DAI implements the SERVIR Program Demand Activity. MyCOE is a public-private partnership active for the past decade with more than 645 youth-led and mentor-supported projects in 102 countries, and with hundreds of young people and educators trained in using geographic knowledge and technologies for sustainable development in local communities.

Thirty-two students were selected on the basis their research in issues such as food security and agriculture, climate change, and sustainable landscapes. The program provided students with customized training in geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, Global Positioning System (GPS), and spatial techniques to enrich their research. At events like the Ghana workshop, participants share plans for their investigations, receive mentoring by international experts, and get to know other program fellows.

(Photo by Stacy Whittle) 

The workshop—themed “Three Generations of Women in Climate Change and Food Security”—sought to advance women’s contributions to climate change adaptation and food security in Africa by linking three generations: pioneer female scientists/mentors, university student fellows, and girls in middle or secondary schools. The MyCOE fellows will next reach out these girls.

Beginning to forge that link, the workshop, hosted by the Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services at the University of Ghana in Accra, brought together the teams of emerging researchers and their mentors with international pioneering female scientists and experts in climate change. The MyCOE fellows will next reach out to young girls in secondary or middle school classrooms.

“A new level of sharing and support is emerging across this community,” said project director Patricia Solis of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). “This is a promising moment.” The MyCOE/SERVIR workshop was held in collaboration with the AAG within the framework of the SERVIR-Africa initiative supported by NASA and USAID. 

SERVIR helps scientists, researchers, and government officials improve their decision making with earth observations and predictive models based on data from satellites. With regional hubs in Central America, East Africa, and the Hindu Kush-Himalayas, SERVIR helps nations in areas such as disaster assessment, water resource management, biodiversity conservation, climate change.

MyCOE/SERVIR-West Africa is the most recent iteration of MyCOE, which also has fellows and mentors working in the Himalayas and East Africa. 

Contact stacy_whittle@dai.com for more information.