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Africa using ICT, GIS to combat disasters: World Bank report

Mozambique: African countries are increasingly turning to ICT and GIS technologies to protect their citizens against natural disasters, observed a report titled, ‘Municipal ICT Capacity and its Impact on the Climate-Change Affected Urban Poor: The Case of Mozambique’. The report is authored by Gaurav Relhan, ICT specialist in the World Bank’s Africa Region.

The report highlighted how African countries are utilising ICT for disaster preparedness. The report stated that GIS technologies are helping local governments in identifying flood zones on maps, measure communities’ vulnerability to flooding, and plan for new flood-prevention infrastructure like drainage systems. Through mobile phones, citizens are being alerted via SMS texts to coming floods or cyclones. And Early Warning Systems (EWS) are simulating weather patterns and predicting disasters in advance. These tools, according to Relhan, can play a pivotal role in ultimately saving lives and lowering recovery costs.

The World Bank is working with the government of Madagascar and Mozambique to scale-up the use of ICTs. Projects in Mozambique and Madagascar join similar projects like ‘Taarifa’, a smart phone-based tool being applied in Uganda and Zimbabwe that allows citizens to alert governments of local sanitation and drainage concerns; and the ‘Map Tandale’ initiative in Tanzania, which provides local residents with GPS devices to map their communities.

As former World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin said in a recent blog post, “ICT innovations are powerful tools to help democratise development and make donor and government programs more inclusive and sustainable.”

Source: All Africa