Pictured at the workshop: AUC’s Mr. Meshack Kinyau, SASSCAL’s Executive Director – Dr Jane Olwoch, and CSIR Divisional Group Executive, Dr. Sandile Malinga, flanked by High-level international delegates from Europe, AU member countries, policymakers, and line ministries from SADC countries

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Southern African Science Centre for Climate  Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) co-hosted the second GMES Regional  Workshop on the impact of Earth observation services and technologies on regional socioeconomic, environmental and security activities and targets in Southern Africa at the CSIR Convention Centre, in Pretoria, South Africa.

SASSCAL and CSIR are currently the primary consortia investigating Wetlands and Oceans in Southern Africa respectively.

The stakeholder workshop held under the theme “Leveraging Earth Observation infrastructure and capacity development towards the effective implementation of space technologies and earth observation services, to create a regional impact on socio-economic, environmental and security activities and policies in Southern Africa” is one of the key tools and avenues the organisation utilises to strengthen relations with partners and acquiring new ones.

High-level delegates who attended the workshop included CSIR Executives, representatives from EU, AUC, member countries, policymakers, line ministries from SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, basin commissions, researchers and others whose activities relate to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.

SASSCAL’s project, Wetland Monitoring System for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) focuses on four transboundary river basins in Southern Africa, with a special emphasis on the Cuvelai, the Okavango, the Limpopo, and the Zambezi River Basins.  Wetlands play a vital role as carbon sinks and are one of the largest methane emitters, according to a new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

In terms of climate change, wetland protection is a top priority, and SASSCAL heads the project. Wetlands, like all other ecosystems, are under intense strain from both human activity and natural occurrences.

SASSCAL Executive Director, Dr Jane Olwoch said ” We have developed a Geo-Portal in Phase 1 and in Phase 2, we will make the portal operational and derive information products for our region so that we can contribute to the better management of the wetlands”. During the workshop, the GMES & Africa Women in GMES-Southern Africa was launched.

SASSCAL Executive Director, Dr. Jane Olwoch flanked by Women in GMES-Southern Africa pictures at the Regional Workshop

Women in GMES was formed by the African Union Commission in 2021 to offer women an opportunity to look deeper into the challenges of women in science institutions in Africa and use the platform to find solutions.

Speaking during the workshop, Mr. Meshack Kinyau, the African Union Commission (AUC) delegate said launching the Women in GMES -Southern Africa Region provides an opportunity to effectively contribute to the objectives of the Women in GMES at the Regional level. “It is only through strengthened and coordinated regions of the Women in GMES that effective conversations that led to tangible results can take place,” added Kinyau.

AUC’s Meshack Kinyau addressing the workshop participants

AUC’s Meshack Kinyau addressing the workshop participants

He reiterated the significance of building and maintaining institutionalized relationships in the development and implementation of Earth Observation Technologies. “Collaborative practices bring with them an opportunity for knowledge sharing and reduction of expenditure due to duplication of tasks when institutions and stakeholders work in isolation,” he added.

Initially, Africa worked in silos – English speaking on one side and the French-speaking on the other. This has however changed due to diversity and inclusion brought into the system.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Dr. Jane Olwoch who said “building of such a network itself is admirable because it is such interactions of scientists from different disciplines that create much knowledge and a recipe for innovation. The AUC has also managed to put together African scientists from Francophone and Anglophone Africa together which is also another success footprint of GMES and Africa”.

During the event, the Women in GMES held a panel discussion to create an opportunity for the panelists to give their thoughts on the role of women in science and in GMES and Africa.

The “Fireside chat” was moderated by Dr Olwoch,  who is also regarded as a mentor to the group. Some of the issues raised included what some of the challenges facing women in science in general and Earth Observation in particular today; the participants’ position on institutional policies around gender balance; what can be done to make tangible progress; whether it is necessary to have so many groupings of Women such as Women in Energy, Women in Green Hydrogen, Women in Copernicus, Women in GMES and if they were familiar with any one of them, how successful have they been and what can be done to make them more successful, amongst others.

At the conclusion of the GMES & Africa Regional Workshop, Southern  Africa,  Women in GMES-Southern Africa  met at a Dinner  for purposes of networking.

Recent Posts