Building Capacities for Disaster Risk Reduction using Geospatial Technologies in the East Africa Region (in partnership with UNITAR-UNOSAT)

Future plans

In-country projects to support specific needs related to flood and drought management.

Support further development of regional and national decision support systems

Continue efforts to raise awareness among policy-makers on the benefits of geospatial technologies and information for DRR

Continue partnership between UNITAR-UNOSAT and IGAD-ICPAC and other specialized agencies of IGAD to enhance regional capacities to support Member States and to ensure exchange of data and information

Background Information

East Africa is a region at risk of multiple disasters including drought, floods and complex emergencies. The application of Geographic Information Technologies (GIT) has been fundamental for reducing the effects of such disasters and increasing community resilience.

It is in this regard that UNITAR and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) partnered in the implementation of a project to build capacities in the use of GIT to address Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the region. The project has proven to be efficient for implementing coherent DRR activities at regional, national and local levels. Throughout its implementation, carried out by UNITAR’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) and IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the project has demonstrated that the use of GIT is timely, objective and cost-efficient for disaster preparedness and response by ensuring that any technical activity goes hand-in-hand with institutional capacity development and decision making.

Key objectives of the project

  1. Knowledge transfer on the uses and applications of Geospatial Information Technologies (GIT) for DRR.
  2. Awareness raising for regional decision makers and development partners on the benefits of GIT for DRR in coordination, information dissemination and policy-making.
  3. Technical backstopping, improving service and data delivery for IGAD, IGAD specialised agencies and IGAD Member States.

Start: The project implementation started in 2012.

Project Activity

The long-term goal of developing a credible and reliable Geospatial Decision Support System for IGAD programmes and Member States is being achieved by focusing on the enhancement of in-house capacities to produce and deliver geospatial information for DRR and the improved application of geospatial technologies and services for DRR decision-making.

In the short term, this translates into activities aimed at strengthening technical knowledge and skills on the use of GIT, providing technical support for products and data development, and raising awareness on the use of GIT for coordination and communication among decision-makers.

Project Success

The project activities carried out between 2012 and 2016 had the following results:

  • Delivery of 5 technical trainings on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) applications for DRR
  • Development of an online Geoportal
  • Development of a live web-map for monitoring climate related hazards
  • Development of a flood hazard map covering the East Africa region 
  • Continued use of GIS-based tools for Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) Anomaly and rainfall analyses by IGAD’s Climate
  • Support climate prediction and application section
  • Increased IGAD staff members with GIS capacity
  • Workshops: High-level awareness raising event for decision makers and national level technical workshop on flood and drought management

Why does the work matter

Should citizens/stakeholders care?

Building capacity at regional level to reduce effects of disasters is fundamental for improving resilience and sustainable development. Until now, insufficient attention has been put on developing technical capacity across the region for improved knowledge in the use of geo-spatial technologies. Ensuring knowledge at technical level is communicated upwards to decision makers and horizontally across sectors is essential for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities, and so any technical activity should go hand-in-hand with institutional capacity development at policy level.

Moreover, the project activities directly or indirectly support the implementation of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 13 (Climate action).

project overview video clip

Feedback from beneficiaries:

The training on GIS for DRR is very relevant for IGAD region. I was very impressed that the trainers used local data and did not bring maps from an unfamiliar part of the world.


I can now produce thematic maps and various queries, which I could not do with other software. I am now equipped to produce better results in my work and use ArcGIS for my future research work.”