Capacity Building workshops: supporting sustainable development projects in Africa



To support the implementation of development initiatives in African countries, and to contribute to filling the data and information gaps regarding the status and change in land use, vegetation cover, agricultural production and water productivity, the European Space Agency’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development – Agriculture and Rural Development cluster is supporting a series of long-term and large-scale projects and programs with Earth Observation information. In the frame of this initiative, a series of successful capacity building workshops have been organised in Ethiopia and Morocco over the past few weeks.

The EO4SD-Agriculture and Rural Development cluster is supporting, through the provision of information from Earth Observation (EO), a series of ongoing projects and programs in African countries such as Morocco, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, among others. Recognising that the access and use of EO data will provide substantial benefits for those countries, in particular in the pursuit of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the cluster has launched a series of workshops dedicated to ensure increased engagement of stakeholders and awareness of EO capabilities.  The workshops are also designed to increase the knowledge among staff working for MDBs, their client countries and the various (inter)national governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in selected projects that promote sustainable development in Africa.

From 5 to 9 February the first workshop took place in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) on the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) campus. The training successfully gathered around 40 participants from ministries, MDBs, universities and governmental organisations who were introduced to EO and Geographical Information System (GIS) knowledge as well as to the EO4SD services. The final day was dedicated to an in-depth discussion and hands-on training related to the uses of the services.


The workshop offered to the audience an in depth knowledge and hands on training on the EO4SD services offered in Ethiopia. Credits: EO4SD - Agriculture cluster

The second workshop took place in Marrakech (Morocco) at the Direction Regional de l´Agriculture (DRA) from 12 to 16 March. For this event, attended by 20 participants from MDBs and governmental agencies, the focus was on projects implemented in Burkina Faso and Morocco and funded by the UN´s International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the World Bank (WB).


Two days were dedicated to building basic EO and GIS knowledge. Credits: EO4SD - Agriculture cluster

Both workshops were led by partners from the EO4SD Agriculture cluster who provided detailed information on the services offered to each country. They trained participants on how the EO4SD services can provide key information for agricultural development in domains such as sustainable land management, agricultural production or irrigation suitability mapping, among many other topics.


EO4SD offers information on change in biomass production. The maps show changes in the biomass production in the North Shewa area between 2013 and 2017, which could indicate the implementation of irrigation practices. Credit: EO4SD Agriculture Cluster (eLeaf)


Water based soil erosion potential is derived from satellite-based digital terrain information, rainfall and land cover data as well as a digital soil map. Areas prone to soil erosion can be identified and further assessed, supporting recovery activities. Credit: EO4SD Agriculture Cluster (GeoVille for ESA/IFAD, 2017).

Specifically, lectures included presentations on spatial data modelling and analysis, an overview of current satellites and their on-board sensors, image interpretation and classification. In addition, the value of the EO4SD services were demonstrated by using the Lizard web service.


Building capacity among task team leaders and implementing teams of sustainable development projects is a crucial activity of the EO4SD cluster. One of the purpose with these workshops is to increase the use of EO data and informaiton in different stages of project cycles (plannig, preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation). Credits: EO4SD - Agriculture cluster

Other EO4SD workshops will take place in the coming months, not only in Africa but also in Asia and Latin America with the purpose of continuing to assist potential users to sustainably build up their decision-making and monitoring capabilities as well as skills in EO data exploitation for agriculture and rural development.