The main aim of the Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster project of the European Space Agency’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative is to support development by building capacity in the use of Earth Observation (EO) data and information to support various initiatives in Africa, Latin America and Asia. For this, the project organises a series of capacity building workshops and training of task team leaders who would then further disseminate the hands-on knowledge of the EO to be applied for agricultural and rural development project optimisation in their regions.
Several capacity building workshops have already been organised in countries such as Ethiopia, Morocco, Bolivia and Cambodia. Representatives of the EO4SD Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster also use the workshops as an opportunity to discuss face-to-face the requirements of those who are actively involved in the implementation projects and programmes on rural and agricultural development.
The next country to be visited by the EO4SD Agriculture Cluster was Cambodia. As part of the continuing capacity building efforts of the EO4SD project, a two-day Geographic Information System/Remote Sensing workshop was delivered in the premises of the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh.
The workshop welcomed both rather experienced guests who participated in the previous edition of the EO4SD training workshop in Morocco in 2018 as well as new attendees. This workshop, therefore, commenced with a quick refresher presentation on the EO4SD project and a short introduction to the EO4SD Lizard online data system.
The workshop yielded some insights: drought-related issues, especially in the context of monitoring local water sources, are the most pressing project tasks and problems experts in Cambodia are facing when working with maps and satellite imagery. After all, Cambodia is currently experiencing fairly severe drought conditions that have not just resulted in water shortages but have also caused lengthy daily power cuts due to their effect on power generation. Therefore, in order to make the workshop as relevant and practical for the participants as possible, the instructor modified the agenda to tailor the workshop content to the participants’ needs by focusing more on resources available for drought monitoring.
Accordingly, during the workshop, the participants:
- Reviewed and discussed the latest drought information from the FAO GIEWS website on Cambodia;
- Downloaded and discussed all Cambodian data layers available from the ESA Global Surface Water website. National GIS datasets of both streams and water bodies (lakes and village ponds) were provided to the participants to aid the analysis.
- Reviewed and discussed SERVIR-Mekong online drought-related resources.
- Learned and discussed the Commune Database 2017 and the Official National Village Gazetteer.
- Worked with Copernicus Sentinel-2 data: they learned how to download data from the USGS Earth Explorer website, were given useful band combinations in ArcGIS and pre-processed the data using the Semi-Automatic Classification Plugin through QGIS.
- Learned how to use the Open Source SAS.Planet software to obtain higher resolution satellite imagery.