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Three million Euros for earth observation trainings in Africa

The University of Twente (UT) will provide trainings on earth observation in Africa. To this end, the UT, together with VITO and Particip, will receive an amount of three million Euros. Recently, the MESA (Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa) Training Service has been established, which is aimed at 48 countries south of the Sahara desert. The ultimate goal is to provide African policy-makers and planners with relevant satellite-based information. This information should help them to solve social problems and make choices for the benefit of their people on the basis of the right data.

The training
The trainings will be provided by ITC Faculty of the UT. Ben Maathuis, Assistent Professor at Faculty ITC, says: “We will instruct African authorities, meteorological services, universities and companies on how to use geographical information systems, earth observation data as well as spatial information. We will provide trainings to public officers and lecturers at local universities. They will learn how to install and manage satellite receiving stations. In addition, they will learn how to use the accompanying software in order to retrieve data such as maps and diagrams.  Everywhere in Africa, we will establish small and cheap receiving stations in order to enable local institutions to collect the right data without the internet.”  The trainings will be provided from four special training centres of meteorological services spread over Africa, but also on the basis of distance learning in a special digital learning environment.

Despite the economic growth of the last years, Africa still has the poorest population of the world. In addition, the continent struggles with problems such as droughts, floods, forest fires and erosion. The objective of MESA is to make satellite data about land, sea and climate available to policy-makers and planners. These data can play a key role in solving the continent's problems. On the basis of this information, policy-makers and planners can make sustainable choices in order to promote the progress and well-being of the African population. Furthermore, MESA intends to transform these satellite information in services for governments and businesses.  In this way, the latter can be provided with up-to-date information on such topics as forest fires, floods, deforestation, agriculture and food security, e.g. by means of SMS messages.   Fishermen may for instance receive an SMS message with information on those spots where most fish can be found. Foresters may receive an SMS message whenever there is some forest fire in their vicinity.

MESA will focus on poverty reduction and sustainable development in 48 countries south of the Sahara desert in Africa. The project will run until 2018 and will be financed by the European Development Fund (‘EDF’), and will be coordinated by the Commission of the African Union.