Earth observation in support to the development of Africa

On 7th December 2005, the African partners of the PUMA project
(Preparation for the Use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa) will
present the results this inititiative funded by the European Commission
during a workshop co-organised by the unit in charge of the Space
Policy at the EC and EUMETSAT. They will also discuss the future of
Earth observation in support to the development of Africa and the link
with the European Space Policy currently under elaboration.
A coherent African request
The African meteorological community
created the PUMA working group (Preparation for the Use of Meteosat
Second Generation in Africa) in 1996, with the support of EUMETSAT and
the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Its mandate was to
generate funds so that all the National Meteorological Services (NMS)
of Africa could have access to the environmental data furnished mainly
by the European MSG satellite. The PUMA Group included 5 regional
economic groupings, the NMS, the WMO and EUMETSAT. The Financing
Agreement for the project was signed in January 2001.
PUMA has a unique character in a number of ways. It is a project
Of continental size with a unique management structure, financed by the EDF and by bilateral funds for non-ACP countries;
Long term, based on proven information systems and a critical mass of 350 trained experts;
Based on guaranteed free access to the environmental data distributed
by EUMETCast for at least 18 years. A balanced content
PUMA has three components:
EUMETCast receive stations, providing access to data via the Digital
Video Broadcast (DVB) standard, perfectly adapted to Africa and based
on simple solutions (PCs and TV receive antennas).
* Training in the use and maintenance of the stations
and use of the environmental data. This training has been programmed at
acknowledged African centres (EAMAC (Niamey), IMTR (Nairobi) and the
South African Weather Service).
* Pilot projects easing access to data for the whole
body of African decision-makers, not just those benefiting from the
project. The themes covered are: tracking the water resources of the
Kasai (RDC), continuous monitoring of desertification (Niger),
management of the fish food chain (Senegal), operational use of MSG in
southern Africa (South Africa), degradation of natural resources
(Kenya) and fisheries management (Mauritius).
The Puma project was completed on 30th
September 2005 with all its objectives attained. Follow-up of the PUMA
project: AMESD PUMA has also prepared the future, by means of the
signature by the Executive Secretaries of the 5 regional economic
groupings in September 2002 of a ?´Dakar Declaration??, which requests
the European Commission to launch a new initiative ?´AMESD??
(Environmental Monitoring for Sustainable Development for Africa).
AMESD is based on exploiting the technical, institutional and thematic
experience which has been acquired in PUMA. AMESD will form the basis
of the African element of the European initiative for Global Monitoring
for the Environment and Security (GMES).
Author: EARSC

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