Enabling development through geospatial

Enabling development through geospatial

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Hyderabad, India: Issues of development sector came to the fore at the symposium on Geospatial for Development Sector, at Geospatial World Forum 2011. The pre-lunch session, chaired by the Director of NATMO, Dr Prithvish Nag, saw some interesting discussions on ongoing development programmes in Africa and India. The post-lunch session, chaired by Director General of RCMRD, Kenya, Dr Hussein Farah, saw some case studies on use of GIS in development process.

Setting the discussion rolling, Dr Hussein Farah of the Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development, Kenya, elaborated the challenges faced by the centre supported by resource challenged African countries. The premier centre in resource mapping has done yeoman service in helping the African countries in policy formulation, geoinformation standardization among others. His centre has helped in result oriented planning in livelihood development, health services planning among others, he elaborated.

Dr Padmanabhan, Emergency Specialist of the UNDP in India, spoke at length on the issue of disaster mitigation and disaster risk reduction programmes. He pointed out that the reallocation of development funds to post-disaster activities hampers development. He called for a change in mindset to enable better Disaster Management in India and pointed out that the India Disaster Resource Network was a non-starter as it was not GIS based unlike the State Disaster Resource Network of Gujarat. He underscored the need for constant updation and geo-referencing of information for better disaster risk reduction. He agreed on the need for interoperability of datasets and the use of open standards.

Director ICTs & S&T Division of the UN Economic Commission for Africa Aida Opoku-Mensah, talked at length about the steps being taken for eradication of poverty by connecting rural communities. She urged for relevant local content and pointed out that ICT is an enabler in poverty reduction.  She said that ECA was leveraging partnerships in spreading the knowledge base. ICT was being used to help improve the access of the poor to knowledge and technologies.

Director of Gujarat Government’s initiative the Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geo Information, TP Singh spoke at length about the programmes being taken up by his institute for spread of GIS. He underscored the need for the GIS application being user-friendly and said that the applications need to be developed based on the needs and understanding of the user. He pointed out that the typical style of vendor pushing an application and expecting the user to learn to use it was unrealistic and would result in lesser acceptability of the technology.  He noted that the Gujarat Government had taken steps to ensure that a multi-purpose multi-hierarchical common geospatial database through seamless integration was in place.

Dr Kaushalya Ramachandran, Principal Scientist & ICAR National Fellow, CRIDA, India, talked about the scope of GIS in watershed development and evaluation. She elaborated on the challenges at the field level and noted that sustainability of the programme was a major issue. She explained how her team had geo-referenced socio-economic aspects of some watershed sites and how they had realized that the programme had not been sustained. She said that the researchers needed geo-referencing and validation of the information. She also called for a broad consensus across social science community on the standards and sharing of geospatial information.

The post-lunch session, chaired by Dr Hussein Farah, saw some case studies in use of GIS in development process. Keya Kunte of Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centre (SPARC), Mumbai, spoke on her organisation’s efforts to use GIS for mapping the boundaries of urban slums. She shared the experiences of getting community participation in mapping of data. The SPARC used a handheld GIS device for mapping of the boundaries of slums in Cuttack and helped identify that there were more slums in that city than its municipality was aware of.  Dr Hussein felt the need for such a programme in Africa.

Professor of Statistics in the University of West Indies at Trinidad, Dr Ashok Sahai, talked about Decision Making using Efficient Confidence Intervals with Meta Analysis of Spatial Data for Socio-Economic Development Project Managers. He talked about the confidence intervals in the meta data in the spatio-temporal data and their variance. Noting that all modeling is but mimicking of reality, he explained how his model of ‘bootstrapping’ was useful in arriving at the confidence intervals required by the decision makers in socio-economic development projects. He underscored the need for factoring in the temporal variations in the meta data.

BAUI Kumara, GIS Consultant, Gramidiriya Foundation in Sri Lanka spoke on a case study of participatory planning at the village level in Sri Lanka. GIS was used to spatially identify the development needs of the community. Further, the data on the community-driven planning programme was also digitally mapped.

KK Mishra, State Nodal Officer (GIS), Public Works Department of the Government of Rajasthan, spoke on how the Government of Rajasthan optimized its spending on the rural roads programme in the state using GIS. He said that the GIS information enabled the Department to curb wasteful expenditure on roads and also bring in transparency in the entire programme.

Kiran Jella, Scientific Officer of the International Water Management Institute, spoke about the use of remote sensing data to prepare a model on the water use in the Krishna River Basin.

Source: Our Correspondent