In continuation of its training programme aimed at providing accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, the CSSTE Consortium, made of seven (7) Partners from five (5) West African countries, namely: Ghana (University of Ghana; CSIR-WRI), Nigeria (CSSTE), Benin (INE), Cote D’Ivoire (CURAT) and Burkina Faso (ISESTEL; VBA), organized a 2-day intensive training focused on building capacity in the acquisition, processing and use of Sentinel- 1, 2 & 3 data and applications.
Due to the COVD-19 pandemic, the training was held online on the 18th and 19th August, 2020, and co-ordinated across the five (5) member countries under the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) initiative. It aimed at enhancing the capacity of technical officers of partners and disaster management organizations within the consortium, on the application of Sentinel data to services including modeling, damage assessment and forecast services.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Director (CSSTE) and Lead of the Consortium, Dr Ganiy Agbaje revealed that the training was expedient since the technology will increase efficiency in flood prediction assist in the location of affected people. Thus, the participants will have access to additional satellite data to enhance flood prediction and support other methods.He emphasized that it was very necessary for Africa to collaborate with the European Union (EU) in organizing the training since the World had long used the technology to monitor its environment and mitigate disasters.
Dr Agbaje said that with the data, rainfall, rivers and the environment will be better monitored, adding that in the case of Nigeria, more information on the activities of River Niger will be known using the technology.
He opined that, “if we monitor River Niger across West Africa and we know what is going on, then we will know what is coming to Nigeria. There are five countries involved in this, we are all monitoring and using the same method to see how we can monitor flood. If we are able to do this, we will be able to do our prediction effectively, our staff will be better equipped: we will know better how to do damage assessment and what point other stakeholders can come in. We will be able to map flood extents and also know where houses should not be built,”
He also commended the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa), a joint initiative of the AU and EU.
Speaking at the opening, Mr Clement Nze, Director- General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) said that the training is aimed at building the capacity of stakeholders to better utilize satellite technology in providing accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment.
Mr Nze pointed out that the training is the second in the series of training lined up for stakeholders on environmental monitoring and forecasting.
The DG said that the training was timely and aimed at enhancing stakeholders’ capacity in delivering their respective institutional mandate.
He appreciated CSSTE Consortium for identifying strategic training needs of its collaborating stakeholders on the multi-scale flood assessment and monitoring services for West Africa and championing the need to train stakeholders in order to sustain the benefits from the Programmes’ products.
In his presentation, the Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency NiMET, Prof. Sani Mashi, noted that the training and the adoption of the technology was very expedient given the rising incidences of flooding across the West African Sub-region. He lamented that the trend in flood damages has grown exponentially over the years.
He added that improved capacity to forecast, monitor and assess floods using Earth Observation Data was therefore an essential element in regional and national strategies in order to mitigate this annual occurence.