SASSCAL and the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security & Africa (GMES and Africa) team from the African Union Commission held a 3-days inception workshop for the phase 2 Wetland Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Transboundary River Basins in Southern Africa (WeMast) Project from 20th to 22nd of April 2022 in Windhoek Namibia.
GMES and Africa Coordinator Dr. Tidiane Ouattara congratulated SASSCAL for being selected for the phase 2 implementation for the WeMast Project and hailed SASSCAL as the only GMES and Africa supported consortium being led by a woman and performing exceptionally well. The other consortium members such as PUMA, EMESD and MESA have been taking part in preceding programmes where SASSCAL joined later. SASSCAL therefore needed to undergo a lot of planning, strategic alignment as well as acquaintance with AUC processes, policies and procedures.
The GMES and Africa has expanded its overarching goals from four pillars to six pillars during the implementation of the phase 2 programme. The newly added goals include Policy and Institutional Framework as well as Knowledge Management.
The newly added overarching goals are meant to respond to policy-related issues and promote sharing of knowledge and information between GMES and Africa supported consortiums. The new goals have been created to address various institutional challenges faced during the implementation of the GMES and Africa Phase 1 programme.
Meanwhile SASSCAL Executive Director who was also present at the kick-off workshop accompanied by SASSCAL employees said they are grateful for being awarded the phase 2 funding and stressed that since SASSCAL is a multi-facet institution, SASSCAL is happy to be part of the GMES and Africa not only because of the funding that comes with the award of the projects but most importantly because of its strategic position since four of its member states are also part of the African Union.
Dr. Olwoch also expressed that she, and SASSCAL are honored to have added the African Union as a new funding stream in 2017 outside of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) that has funded SASSCAL core programmes since 2012. Dr. Olwoch informed the delegates in the meeting that SASSCAL takes the partnership with GMES and Africa very seriously as she promised to continue improving implementation of the programme every year.
WeMAST aims to design and develop an integrated platform for the assessment and monitoring of wetlands to support sustainable water and natural resources management of selected transboundary river basins, namely, the Cuvelai, Okavango River, the Limpopo River and the Zambezi River Basins. The WeMAST Portal was developed in the first phase and the main output of Phase 2 is to operationalize the portal and deliver products and services that are of high quality, times and relevant.
GMES and Africa is an initiative between the Africa Union and the European Union in the area of space science & technology and a key priority under the EU-Africa partnership. GMES & Africa aims to promote the development of local capacities, and institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.