AU, EU train W/African nations on technology to mitigate flood


By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Abuja, Aug. 18, 2020 Nigeria and other West African nations are set to adopt new system of utilising satellite technology in better predict environmental patterns to help mitigate flood.

The training for the new technology opened in Abuja on Tuesday and is to hold simultaneously in other West African Countries.

The adoption of the new technology follows an initiative by African Union (AU) leaders and the European Union.

Mr Clement Nzeh, Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Survey Agency (NIHSA), said at the opening event that the training was aimed at building the capacity of stakeholders.

According to Nzeh, it will also help to better utilise satellite technology in providing accurate, timely and easily assessable information to improve the management of the environment

He said that the training, under the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa), was the second in the series of trainings lined up for stakeholders.

He said that the training, organised by the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (CSTD), was focused on the identified training needs of stakeholders and organisations around West Africa.

”This is with a view to enhancing their capacity in delivering respective institutional mandate.

“This training programme will focus on building capacity on the acquisition and use of satellite data, including modelling, damage assessment and forecast services.

“CSTD has identified strategic training needs of its collaborating stakeholders on the multi-scale flood assessment and monitoring services for West Africa.

”Hence, the need to train stakeholders to sustain the benefits from the programmes’ products.

“I am happy to inform you that the Nigeria Hydrological Survey Agency in its eight years of predicting flood event, the level of accuracy in forecast has increased through the application of space products.

“The training, therefore, comes at the right time when we are experiencing flooding across the country, and I hope it will go a long way in complementing efforts on flood forecasts and early warning,” Nzeh said.

Dr Ganiyu Agbaje, Executive Director, Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (CSSTE), under CSTD gave more insights on the training and adoption of satellite imaging.

Agbaje said that use of the new technology would make it easier to locate the people really affected.

He said that the training was not to teach participants how to predict but how to use additional satellite data to do predictions better and support other methods.

He said that the technology had been on for a while around the world, adding that African leaders, in collaboration with the EU, initiated the training to monitor the environment.

He also said that with the data, rainfall, rivers and the environment would be better monitored, and in the case of Nigeria, more information on the activities of River Niger would be known using the technology.

“So, if we monitor River Niger across West Africa and we know what is going on, we will know what is coming to Nigeria.

“There are five countries involved in this, we are all monitoring and using the same method to see how we can monitor flood.

“If we are able to do this, we will do the prediction effectively, our staff will be better equipped; we will know how to do damage assessment and what point other stakeholders can come in.

“We will be able to map flood extents and also know where houses should not be built,” he said.

Prof. Sani Mashi, Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), noted that the training and the adoption of the technology were timely given the rising incidences of flooding across the West African Sub-region.

“During the last decades, the trend in flood damage has been growing exponentially.

“Improved capacity to forecast, monitor and assess floods using Earth Observation Data is, therefore, an essential element in regional and national strategies to mitigate the annual event,” Mashi said.

He expressed confident that such training would provide the useful skills and knowledge to all the trainees for planning to establish such forecasting system.