SASSCAL to host a technical partners meeting

By a Correspondent

Renowned Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) is set to host a technical partner’s workshop to review the progress of activities and deliverables of its Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment (WeMAST) Phase II project.

Set for the 27th and 28th of June, the workshop will be conducted at the Protea Fürstenhof Hotel, Windhoek Namibia where the organisation’s project team, technical partners, and private sector will be deliberating on the advancements of the project.

WeMAST project is a project funded under the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa Support Programme between Africa Union and the European Union in the area of space science and technology. Moreover it is a key priority under the EU-Africa partnership.

WeMAST is being implemented in four basins: Cuvelai, Zambezi, Okavango, and Limpopo located in six countries in Southern Africa namely Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For a better understand of the status of these wetlands, one must understand the environments, social-economic influences and cultural aspects in the 6 countries. These intersections and dependencies of the different factors in the six countries in Southern Africa make Wetlands not only important, but also interesting for research.

There are several ecosystems services and functions provided by the wetlands: In WeMAST study area, wetland provides water and pasture for livestock production, irrigation activities as well as other non-agricultural uses such as brick making and fishing. Vegetable cropping in and outside the wetland is the main source of food and income for the local communities.

Moreover, the Barotse wetland was designated as Ramsar site since 2007 because of its great biodiversity. The Barotse floodplain has the richest aquatic herpetofauna in the Zambezi basin with a total of 89 species among which include lizards, snakes, crocodiles and frogs. The lack of mechanised agriculture, the lack of pesticide usage and the relative intactness of wetlands allow a great biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles to thrive.

In a statement, SASSCAL highlighted that the meeting will see stakeholders assessing their progress and re-aligning the roles of the technical partners to ensure there is a common understanding of the Project objectives, tasks, and deliverables as per the Implementation of SASSCAL’s Action Plan for this year.

“The workshop will be a strategic platform and opportunity to allow SASSCAL to showcase the new features and functionalities of the enhanced WeMAST geoportal and get feedback from the technical partners to allow the finalisation of its development and get feedback on the implementation challenges and opportunities,” highlighted part of the statement.

WeMAST geoportal is an online platform that aims to provide policy and decision-makers with effective wetlands assessment and monitoring tools based on Earth Observation (EO) technology that promotes policy implementation, encourages innovative and solid wetland management practices in southern Africa.

Through the WeMAST project, SASSCAL, is mandated to design, develop, and operationalise an integrated geospatial data platform that provides wetlands information services. The organisation’s wetlands geoportal is set to extend existing EO capabilities in Southern Africa for wetlands monitoring and assessment.
“SASSCAL and its technical partners, Midlands State University, Zimbabwe, University of Namibia, University of Botswana, University of Zambia, National Remote Sensing Centre, Zambia, University of Western Cape, South Africa, and Locate IT, Kenya, seek to enhance the products and services of the Geoportal, “ said the statement.

While WeMAST is a consortiums under the GMES and Africa Programme in southern Africa, GMES and Africa also have other international Commission for the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin (CICOS), Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD).

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