ESA, the European Space Agency, recently selected twenty projects for the Tiger II initiative. The programme involves using satellite imagery to tackle water problems on the African continent and to improve water management practices. ESA has contracted with the Institute for Geo-information Sciences and Earth Observation (ITC), a University of Twente faculty since 2010, for knowledge transfer as part of the Tiger II initiative.
The first Tiger initiative resulted from the Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg in 2002. The programme was run from 2005 to 2009. In the Tiger I programme, data from ESA earth observations were used by local African organizations for water quality monitoring, groundwater mapping and for investigating the impact of irrigation on agriculture.
The Tiger II programme is a follow-up to the initial project. One of its most important goals is to promote the further development of scientific skills on the African continent. All projects will be implemented by local African organizations. ESA will provide the earth observation data free of charge and will invest in knowledge transfer. Universities, institutes and water authorities will be able to learn how best to use the earth observation data.
According to Zoltan Vekerdy, one of the ITC project managers, the use of earth observation data in Africa is still in its infancy. ‘For Africans, it is certainly not easy to determine what information they need, how to request the information and finally how to incorporate it into their own systems.’
ITC will also provide training for twenty selected project organizations in the second phase of the Tiger programme (2010-2012). In addition, it will serve as a bridge between the African organizations and research institutes worldwide. TU Delft, the University of Lisbon (UNL), the Belgian company VITO and others are involved in the implementation of these projects in Africa.
Tiger is an international initiative that contributes to carrying out the strategy of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). It receives support from UNESCO, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency and is endorsed by the African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW).