Earth observation for food security in Kenya
The third Kenyan AfriCultuReS hybrid workshop was held in Nairobi on March 16.
The experts like the following aspects of the AfriCultuReS platform (https://africultures-platform.eu/):
the broad variety of use cases and relevant services, the continuity of data streams, the possibility to add your own data, the visualisation and outlook of the platform and the automatic updates.
Opinions differed on the user friendliness of the platform. This has to do with the level of expertise required: the platform is considered user-friendly for those in the know about GIS and remote sensing, but not for non-specialists.
The slow loading of the platform affects the speed of accessing the products and this was considered a point for improvement. Another point of concern that needs to be addressed urgently was the guarantee for long-term sustainability of the platform.
Apart from some technical points, recommendations related to a more prominent search function and a demonstrated interoperability with other platforms. Adaptation to local conditions was a general recommendation, concerning both adjustment to the specific needs of different government agencies (leading to more direct decision support) and the ability to adapt to Kenyan farming reality, which requires high resolution imagery. The need for user manuals, instruction videos and training was also clearly expressed.
The following application areas were highlighted: rangeland monitoring, land use and land use change, climate change and seasonal forecasts, early warning related to drought and water quality, land degradation assessment, crop phenology, crop monitoring, yield estimation and harvested area determination.
AfriCultuReS Kenya use cases presentation
AfriCultuReS Kenya services demo
AfriCultuReS Kenya platform demo
User workshop 3rd October
The fourth AfriCultuReS User Workshop of 2019 was organised by LocateIT and held in Nairobi on 3rd October. This workshop brought together representatives from government departments, research institutions and universities, farmers’ organisations, private enterprise and intergovernmental organisations to explore how AfriCultuReS can best meet user needs and build user capacity in Kenya.
Speaking during the opening address, Prof. Hamadi Boga, The State Department for Crop Development and Agriculture Research Principal Secretary, said that the ministry is developing a centralised, digitised information and knowledge portal where agricultural stakeholders can have access to production information on food and nutrition security. He expressed high hopes that AfriCultuReS will be high-quality research that will create data for Kenya.
Participants in the workshop in Kenya once again highlighted the importance of collaboration and integration, particularly given the number of Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiatives currently operational in the country. They suggested a need for agility to cope with a rapidly changing context, as the priority problems of today may not be those of tomorrow and lack of flexibility may result in the creation of products which quite quickly become obsolete.
Understanding this evolving context means continually engaging with the diversity of agricultural stakeholders in Kenya and particularly with the diversity of farmers. Users reiterated the need to demystify solutions by simplifying them for the different levels of target users. For instance, disseminating information to pastoralists in Northern Kenya, would require the development of an entirely different communication strategy, potentially one based on existing social and business networks such as those centred around water point managers, elder associations or agrodealerships. Encouraging uptake of EO4SD applications will also involve creating simplified products which elegantly meet the core needs of end-users, and demystifying these products so that end-users fully understand the contributions earth observation-based applications can make to farming livelihoods.
Capacity development needs identified in Kenya included providing training on the use of EO-based applications to a diversity of stakeholders, through user workshops but also by making sure that products are accompanied by detailed supporting documentation. Participants also highlighted the challenges of integrating data from different sources, particularly when data owners may be unwilling to share because they fear losing a commercial advantage. Attendees additionally highlighted the need to engage with rural realities to ensure that the products created are genuinely relevant to the livelihoods of rural people, and to complement satellite earth observation data with the indigenous knowledge held in rural communities.
Our thanks to Vivianne Meta, Vance Udoto, Evelyn Nanjala, Elvis Khamala, Steve Omondi and all colleagues at LocateIT for organising the workshop, and to the workshop participants for sharing their expertise and experiences.
A full report on AfriCultuReS 2019 User Workshop outcomes will be shared on the website in early 2020. Further information is also available in the coverage of the workshop by the Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation
AfriCultuReS user requirements stakeholder workshops
Workshops were held in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique and South Africa to assess user needs related to Earth observation for food security. The photos below give an impression of the workshops. Additional workshops are scheduled for Tunisia and Niger. The Business Daily wrote an article on the stakeholder workshop held in Kenya:
“Timely data will unlock farming potential, tech experts advise”.
Workshop participants Kenya