Geographic Information Systems
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CTA. 1998. Geographic Information Systems. Spore 73. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48993
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore73.pdf
Geographic Information Systems as tools for rural development in sub-Saharan Africa
Geographic Information Systems as tools for rural development in sub-Saharan Africa a CTA/ITC international seminar, 23 - 26 September 1997, Enschede, The Netherlands Since the early 1990s there has been a remarkable increase in the number of potential Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications in sub-Saharan Africa, from desertification and bushfire monitoring to food supply early warning systems and water resource management. However, organizations working at the local level in rural development can be hesitant to use the new tools and often consider RS/GIS to be merely a tool for top-down planning, and one which is incompatible with the need for participatory forms in rural development. Together with the Netherlands-based ITC (the International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences), CTA organized an international seminar on GIS with three objectives: to explore the general potential of GIS as information tools for decision making processes in agricultural and rural development; to identify the information needs of decision makers and to assess the relevance of GIS for meeting them; and to explore the potential of GIS as a tool for local level development planning. Participants came from ten sub-Saharan countries and represented the public and the private sectors, such as governmental institutions at national and subnational level, non-governmental organizations and grass-root organizations such as farmers' associations. During the four days of the meeting GIS potentials were explored, information needs were identified and the relevance of GIS for local level planning was ascertained. Participants were motivated to share many of their country experiences and a broad range of country experiences emerged. The difficult balance between GIS content, its application and management was evident throughout the seminar. The seminar succeeded in reaffirming to the current GIS users that their future contribution to sustainable sub-Saharan agricultural development will be of growing importance. While evaluating the cost : benefit ratio of GIS, the participants stressed the point that not using GIS also has a cost if decisions are not sufficiently knowledge-based. Through the publication of the summary report and the proceedings, and other appropriate means, CTA will continue to support participants and their local networks of partners in these efforts.