By Isaac Mugera –
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in Uganda, has received a Global Award for the outstanding monitoring and management of disasters in the country. In the Awards ceremony organized by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in Canberra- Australia on 6th November 2019, Uganda was recognized for the commendable use of satellite technology to monitor and manage drought and famine in the country, especially in the Karamoja Sub region.
Through their initiative; the Earth Observations for the Sustainable Development Goals (EO4SDG), GEO launched the awards programme to recognize valuable contributions to its mission, and Uganda is one of the first winners of this award category. The Awards recognize productivity, ingenuity, proficiency, novelty and exemplary communications of results and experiences in the use of Earth observations to support sustainable development.
Four years ago, the Disaster Management Department in OPM signed an MOU with The University of Maryland USA to support the Dep’t in building capacity for use of Global Earth Observation (satellite) technology in monitoring drought and famine in Karamoja. The system subsequently was installed in 2015.
Since the installation, Karamoja has not suffered a big famine because the system is able to forecast drought/famine 3 to 6 months ahead, enabling early action.
In the 4-year period, this development has cut the costs of relief supplies to Karamoja by 19 billion, saving resources for other parts of the country in need.
This achievement and many other strides in disaster management have therefore placed the Disaster Management Department, OPM and Uganda in the best position to win the GEO award.