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Copernicus User Uptake in Africa via Technical Support in the Field of Disaster Management and Disaster Risk Reduction (Sentinels-4-African-DRR)

Point of contact
Jens Danzeglocke
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Königswinterer Str. 522
53227 Bonn
Phone: +49-228-447215

The proposed action aims to promote the use of Sentinel satellite data as well as freely available Copernicus information products in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Management (DRM) on the national and regional level in Africa. Existing activities and networks, mainly in the frame of the United Nations, are utilised to reach national disaster management organisations, DRR professionals, and regional experts and multipliers. The action will produce guidance and best practices in the form of tutorials, easy-to-use tools etc. and present and promote them during technical advisory support missions and expert workshops. Thus, new Copernicus users shall be reached with the result of an extended data usage in Africa.

The Copernicus programme with its fleet of Sentinel satellites heralds a “golden age” of satellite-based Earth Observation (EO). Freely available Sentinel imagery of global land surfaces will especially stimulate EO use in developing and emerging nations. The UN Sendai Framework Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) defines priorities, such as a (better) “understanding disaster risks”, as well as targets, such as “substantially reduce global disaster mortality” and “substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies”. Reporting obligations need to be met by signatory countries. The SFDRR priorities and targets as well as related Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030, such as “Life on Land”, can hardly be met without facilitating satellite-based EO.

However, the existing “digital gap” results in limited technical and methodological understanding and often low levels of acceptance of space-based applications in relevant national authorities in Africa. Also, the knowledge of the free use of Sentinel data and products is not yet widely spread. The "United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response - UN-SPIDER" is a UN programme which addresses this digital gap. It shall ensure that all countries, international and regional organizations have access to and develop the capacity to use all types of space-based information to support the full disaster management cycle. Nonetheless, Copernicus data is not yet used on the African continent as it could be. Thus, this action intends to achieve improvements by providing practical guidance and helpful handouts that meet the needs of the target audience: national mandated DRM organisations, young professionals, and regional experts and multipliers. They shall be supported in learning how to find, get and use Sentinel imagery, using simple tools and applications, free software, openly available information layers (e.g. from the Copernicus Land Service) etc. The focus of this activity is on the full range of data and information products delivered by the Sentinel Satellites, taking advantage of already existing networks to reach out to the adequate partners in African countries. The goal is to enable them to build their own expertise and integrate Copernicus-based applications in their work.

Guidelines and tutorials will be prepared based on Sentinel data and Sentinel-based information products that are tailored to the different requirements of users from different institutions in African countries. UN networks and technical advisory missions in African countries will help to assess end-user requirements and to reach user communities through targeted training events. Information products, learning materials and tools will be prepared in accordance to these requirements and broadly disseminated. To achieve this, collaboration with other related activities is intended.

2-3 trainings per year will take place in African countries on the occasion of UN-SPIDER Technical Advisory Missions (TAM) or connected with other relevant events. Training materials and step-by-step tutorials on how to make use of Copernicus data and information products will be prepared, specifically tailored to the needs of the African DRR/DRM community. These will be presented and discussed at the TAMs and UN-SPIDER Expert Workshops.

Outputs and Results

  • Guidelines for the use of Copernicus satellite data and information products in different disaster contexts
    • Brochures and online resources, for specific types of disasters and different kinds of users
  • Tutorials on the use of Copernicus data for DRR and DRM
    • Training plan and materials (slides, data, software) ready for training courses
    • Different modules to address different types of disasters and different user requirements
    • Workbook for self-studies
    • Online courses
  • Dissemination of these products through different means (e.g. online resource, printed versions, digital version on USB drives provided during technical advisory missions in various national research institutions and ministries)