Geographic Information System (GIS) is a powerful tool for research and management endeavours involving resources that have locational reference.
This was the unanimous feedback from participants at the Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing training for professionals in resource research and management held at the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA).
The training, a flagship UNU-INRA capacity-building programme, aims to equip professionals with theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills in GIS and Remote Sensing to advance research and inform decision making in natural resources management and other relevant development-driven endeavours in Africa.
Prof. Daniel Okae-Anti, a participant from the Soil Science Department of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana said: “In today’s research and development work, we must always be conscious about our environment; geographic location is thus essential element for all land-based research.”
“The interesting thing is that GIS is not reserved for science-biased people, it cuts across all fields, making it a powerful tool to adopt for research work,” he added.
Mr Emmanuel Ayimpusah, a PhD Candidate at the Economics Department of the University of Ghana, said “It’s a very good training programme… spatial studies will not be possible without a good understanding of GIS.”
Touching on how he will deploy the training, he explained, “… this course will help me in my thesis, which is considering the economic analysis of flood risks and adaptation options in Ghana.”
Director of UNU-INRA, Dr Fatima Denton, speaking in an interview following a brief ceremony to mark the end of the training, noted that GIS is a key part of UNU-INRA’s work.
Highlighting some benefits of the technology she said: “We are looking at how we can better conserve, better harness Africa’s natural resources…[also] the detection aspect of remote sensing works like an alert system that allows us to have better preparedness against natural disasters,” she said.
Further, Dr Denton called on African governments to adopt and improve their use of GIS technology, and on organisations to be more open to train their officials that will find GIS relevant to their work.
GIS is a computer-based tool for mapping and analysing feature events on earth. It manages location-based information and provides tools for display and analysis of various statistics, including population characteristics, economic development opportunities, and vegetation types.
It helps in explaining events, predicting outcomes, and planning strategies. Remote sensing, on the other hand, is a technique used to survey and collect data regarding an object or a phenomenon without any physical contact with the object or the phenomenon being observed.
UNU-INRA has been organising capacity building programmes in GIS since 2013.
Participants at the just-ended session were taken through theoretical background to GIS and hands-on applications in collecting spatial data with GPS and analysing satellite imagery for location-specific solutions in addressing resource management challenges facing Africa.