Capacity building and information
management and exchange
in southern Africa
GTOS started its activities in southern Africa in 1999, with a comprehensive survey on Environmental Information Systems, and is considered a new player in the region. In June 2002, GTOS continued to build technical capacities in the region by organizing and supporting a workshop in Pretoria related to natural resources and food security information management and exchange. The workshop was in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Council, Institute for Soil, Climate and Water (ARC-ISCW) of South Africa.
The 25 participants were in positions of senior managerial and decision-making responsibility in government ministries and agencies from Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This workshop confirmed the need for a decision-support tool focusing on publishing and accessing spatial data. The workshop was particularly effective in that it enabled participants from several countries to be trained in the use of the FAO Dynamic Atlas software suite. Dynamic Atlas offers an efficient and simple solution for publishing maps, databases, documents and metadata on the Internet and private Intranets.
Dynamic Atlas Maps interface showing the southern Africa Atlas
GTOS provided participants with 30 copies of the Dynamic Atlas software, including a comprehensive data atlas for southern Africa. The atlas is a good starting point for participants to begin implementing the software and train colleagues in their home organizations. The participants expressed considerable interest in using such tools in their institutes. The workshop also provided an excellent opportunity for exchanging best practices and fostering networking among the participants.
The country representatives were extremely positive about the resource centre concept presented by GTOS. The resource centre would provide spatial data products, management and services through activities that would include:
liberating relevant spatial information that remains unknown and unused.
The implementation of the resource centre now depends on securing sources of external funding, and a project proposal has been submitted to potential donors.