Knowledge for Development

S&T Organisations / Web resources

Rainwatch keeps eye on rainfall for West African farmers

NOAA-funded researchers hope a new climate information system they developed will help West African farmers help themselves. Rainwatch is a prototype geographic information system (GIS) that monitors monsoon rainfall and tracks season rainfall attributes. This information is crucial because sub-Saharan Africa depends more strongly and directly on rainfall than any other region on Earth, yet the area has the fewest rainfall monitoring stations and significant delays that occur between data collection and its availability for users. Rainwatch automates and streamlines key aspects of rainfall data management, processing and visualization. A major appeal is its simplicity – all interactive interfaces, symbols and names used are unpretentious and self explanatory. In addition, the system can be used by Africans without any outside assistance such as satellite information. In a successful 2009 demonstration involving seven rain gauge stations in Niger, Rainwatch was shown to directly address the area's need for better rainfall data acquisition, management, representation and rapid dissemination. The programme continued in 2010, when it dramatically showed the return of abundant rainfall. It is expected to expand beyond Niger. Because Rainwatch is simple to operate and more streamlined in design and scope than existing systems, the researchers hope the programme will be adopted and used more widely throughout West Africa where other more complicated rainfall data dissemination systems have had limited success. (NOAA, 12/5/2011)


MAPFORGEN: An online atlas for the conservation of forest genetic resources

MAPFORGEN (Mapping Forest Genetic Resources) is a project to evaluate the conservation status of 100 socio-economically important woody species (trees, palms, shrubs and bamboos) from different eco-regions of Latin America and the Caribbean. The final product with all the gathered information will be a publicly available on-line Atlas with GIS-based threat, distribution and in situ conservation analyses. Additionally, with the help of experts the main risks faced by the prioritized species will be described and threatened populations and distribution of high-vulnerability areas identified. The information in this Atlas will not only increase the visibility of the conservation status of forest genetic resources native to Latin America and the Caribbean but will be a useful resource to support national and international forest and conservation programmes. It will also be the basis for further studies on the intra-specific level. MAPFORGEN is a joint initiative of Bioversity International and the Centro de Investigación Forestal of the Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (CIFOR-INIA, Spain) in close collaboration with the Latin American Forest Genetic Resources Network (LAFORGEN).


African Drought Monitor

Monitoring drought globally is challenging because of the lack of dense in-situ hydrologic data in many regions. This is particularly problematic for developing regions such as Africa where water information is arguably most needed, but virtually nonexistent on the ground in many regions. A potential way forward is to use a modelling framework that couples available satellite remote sensing and in-situ information. This results in physically consistent and spatially and temporally continuous estimates of the water cycle and drought. A drought monitor based on this framework and an accompanying web-based user interface have been developed by Princeton University, in collaboration with UNESCO, for operational and research use over Africa. Based on macro scale hydrologic modelling, the system ingests available data to provide a real-time assessment of the water cycle and drought conditions, and puts this in the context of the long-term record back to 1950. The data is made available online for drought research and operational use to augment on-the-ground assessments of drought.



AGRICAB is an EU funded project that builds on GEONETcast, a near real time, global network of satellite-based data dissemination systems designed to distribute space-based, air-borne and in situ data, metadata and products to diverse communities. The project addresses three main topics: (i) sustained digital data access; (ii) enhancing earth observations through predictive modelling; (iii) expose, discover, experience activities to allow a large community to learn and implement. Dedicated use cases in various African countries designed to address policy issues related to livestock, crop systems and forest management will be used to train stakeholders atf the Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS, Tunisia), the Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD, Kenya) and the AGRHYMET in Niger.   (AGRICAB, 2013)


PacGeo: open access geospatial data repository for the Pacific Region

PacGeo is an all-encompassing geospatial platform for cataloguing, administering and exposing geophysical, geodetic and specialist marine spatial data for the Pacific community. PacGeo provides easy access to jurisdictional information and tools for marine spatial planning in the Pacific. The system has been developed by the University of Sydney, Applied GeoScience and Technology Division of Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SOPAC/SPC), Geoscience Australia (GA), and UNEP GRID-Arendal Centre. PacGeo will be launched with finalised datasets by the summer 2014.