Pacific Island countries to build geo-spatial databases, with help from AIT

Pacific Island countries to build geo-spatial databases, with help from AIT

Twelve participants from eight countries from the Pacific region have
begun a month-long training program at AIT to learn about creating
national geo-databases and geo-portals for disaster risk reduction. The
participants hail from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Samoa,
Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

“The aim is to work together to develop a system that is customised
for every country, “ Dr. Lal Samarakoon, Director, GIC told
participants. He stated that AIT, with its vast experience in satellite
data had worked as a node with Sentinel Asia, and it had taken the lead
in disaster risk assessment and disaster risk reduction. Expressing his
gratitude to both UNESCAP for associating AIT for implementing the
project, and the Government of Japan for supporting the project, Dr.
Lal added that the training will be followed by on-site visits to three
countries by AIT experts.

Mr. Hitoshi Kozaki, Head of International Organization Department and
Deputy Permanent Representative to ESCAP, Embassy of Japan to Thailand,
stated that the aims of the month-long training program went beyond
capacity building. “This is also an opportunity for all participants to
build networks with experts from the entire region,” he said. Mr.
Kozaki stated that the program fits into the twin aims of achieving
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework for
Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

Ms. Tiziana Bonapace, Director, ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction
Division, ESCAP,  spoke about the importance of establishing
geoportals for Early Warning Systems (EWS) and Disaster Risk Reduction
(DRR). She also appreciated the role played by AIT, particularly in
capacity building. Ms. Bonapace added the $200-300bn is lost annually
due to disasters, with the Pacific region being particularly vulnerable
to cyclones. “Disasters are here to stay, and we have to modify our
response,” she told participants. Geo-spatial information becomes
valuable in assessing hazards, and it is crucial that the right
information is provided to the right people at the right time, she

Mr. Tae Hyung Kim, Economic Affairs Officer, ESCAP, facilitated the
opening session organized at AIT on 6 February 2017. Mr. Ramesh De
Silva, System Administrator, GIC, provided the course introduction and
the template for the mid-term national action plan.

The training program will run from 6 February-3 March 2017, and it
will be followed by pilot projects in three countries, where AIT will
work with the host country to install Geo-Portals and Geo-Databases,
and conduct further capacity building activities.