Maps for the masses?
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CTA. 2000. Maps for the masses?. Spore 85. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46686
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore85.pdf
Now you can make your own monitoring system. Only one hitch: you need a computer. Are you looking for physical details about your area? GIS may have an answer. Geographical Information Systems bring together all sorts of geographic data maps,...
Now you can make your own monitoring system. Only one hitch: you need a computer. Are you looking for physical details about your area? GIS may have an answer. Geographical Information Systems bring together all sorts of geographic data maps, satellite images, aerial photos, statistics and texts. With integrated and up-to-date GIS information, natural resource management (NRM) can be improved, with better analysis, forecasting and planning. GIS have many very useful applications in NRM, rural development and risk prevention, but there is a but. You have to be able to obtain the data. Here are some leads. In the field of NRM, increasing numbers of livestock are causing numerous problems: overgrazing, deforestation and water shortages and pollution. By using GIS data, it is possible to combine these multiple factors and to analyse their inter-relationships. Some Websites provide examples: www.fao.org/ giews/english/Basedocs/ lacbase.htm provides satellite images of each country with the state of vegetation from year to year. The site of the US Geological Survey - edcwww. cr.usgs.gov/earthshots/ slow/ tableofcontentsmap provides satellite images of year-by-year trends in land use in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Watch it grow, erode, burn: Santo Domingo's changing vegetation Mauritania and Senegal. The University of Maryland has set up a GIS which pulls together the key elements of information available on vegetation, climate, population and infrastructure in all the countries of central Africa, on a regional scale (1:1,000,000). Its analysis of changes in vegetation cover is aimed at improving NRM in the countries concerned (carpe.gecp.virginia.edu/ french/gisthemes.html). Hydrological data (locations, rainfall data, ground reservoirs) are available on-line on the HAPEX - Sahel Hydrology GIS at gaya.mpl.orstom. fr/grasslinks/. On a more modest scale, the site www. nhm.ac.uk/botany/projects_ research/project3/index.html shows the results of a survey of the ecosystem of the 'Maya Mountains' in Belize, drawing on satellite images and land-based observations. Harvests can be predicted through monitoring crop growth. This can be clearly seen on the FAO site geoweb. fao.org/, which gives access to the data used in the Global Information and Early Warning System on food and agriculture (GIEWS) for each country in the world. Several early warning systems are of immediate value for ACP countries, providing maps which are regularly updated for weather watches (drought, heavy rainfall, cyclones) and monitoring of crop pests. On the site of the World Meteorological Organisation (www.wmo.ch) there is live weather information drawn from nine satellites and 17,000 monitoring stations. It includes details about El Niño and La Niña, meteorological and marine information and links to national meteorological offices. Similarly, the site www.intellicast. com/LocalWeather/World/ contents.html will give weather forecasts for the next days in thousands of towns and cities, from Timbuktu to Johannesburg. And FAO provides weekly updates on locust infestations (see Spore 84) on http://www.fao.org/ If these examples have whetted your appetite and you want to know more about how a GIS works, you can go online and even download free software to make a start. The GIEWS mentioned above allows you to make personalised maps of a country (geoweb.fao.org/GeoWEB.exe$ChooseCtry) providing information from the FAO database and satellite images from its ARTEMIS: basis maps, indications of crops and topics by zone using statistics of population, agricultural production, cloud cover, and vegetation, along with detailed instructions on compiling your map. FAO also has a free software called WinDisp (www.fao.org/giews/ english/windisp/windisp.htm. ) for displaying and analysing satellite images, maps and databases, with an emphasis on early warning systems for food security. Another software programme Arcview can be downloaded from www.ce.utexas.edu/prof/ maidment/gishydro/africa/ ex1af/ex1af.htm, and used in analysing meteorological data, on the Niger basin for example. If you want to go further than these sites and get a real training in GIS, several universities provide short (1 to 3 year) post-graduate courses, and there are specialised bodies such as the ITC (International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences, PO Box 6, 7500 AA Enschede, Netherlands Fax : + 31 53 487 44 00 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org). Luckily for many, GIS are not just accessible on the Internet. True, the Net is a good place to play host to data of this kind, but it is almost as easy to obtain maps, software and all sorts of data from research institutes, national geographic bodies and map publishers. However, there is still a long way to go before all the data gathered by GIS is widely available, and even further to go before people at the grassroots can use the data, although encouraging steps are being made (see News in Brief). No wonder that the issue of data appropriation by people in the field was the focus of lively debate at the international seminar on GIS held by ITC and CTA in September 1997. Further reading Geographical information systems and remote sensing as tools for rural development in sub-Saharan Africa. Seminar proceedings, Enschede, Netherlands, 1997. CTA, 1998, 268 pp. ISBN 92-9081-1986 CTA No. 908, 40 credit points.