This brief report provides an overview of the national stakeholders’ workshop on development of a Spatial Data Infrastructure in Uganda which was held on the 7th June 2006 at the Makerere University. The workshop was organized with support from the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI) small grant awarded in December 2005. The organizing committee acknowledges the support of the GSDI small grants program and expresses gratitude for the support. The workshop was organized around the premise that Knowledge management for problem-solving strategies has been recognized as a key priority in poverty eradication and pursuance of development. It is also noted that location-based information has become vital for planning, assessment, monitoring and evaluation of development programs including poverty as well management of environment and natural resources. It was recognized that Geo-information can play an important role in development but its management in Uganda is constrained by lack of an operational National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). A functioning NSDI is a requisite for management of development at all levels of national planning. Therefore inadequacy in data management at national level is continuing to manifest in high costs for development due to duplication, disintegrated systems, data access barriers that create disparate datasets on similar aspects. The workshop benefited from a wide range of stakeholders involved in data development, integration and users. Participants were drawn from academia, research institutions, ministries, NGO’s, private sector, security organizations, media, local governments and international relief and emergency organizations as shown in the table below. The workshop was blessed with the participation of the Hon Minister for Education and Sports Honorable Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire who represented the Prime Minister of Uganda and opened the workshop. Highlights of the workshops are briefly presented in this paper. Many thanks to the organizing committee members (list attached), all the paper presenters and facilitators including; the Honorable Minister for Education, Professor Hannington Sengendo, Mr. Derek Muhwezi, Mr. Chukwudozie Ezigbalike, Bernard Muhwezi, Ali Karatunga, Sjaak Dieleman and all Poster presenters.
|Institution/Category||Number of participants|
|Hospice Africa Uganda||1|
|National Research Organizations||2|
|National Forestry Authority||1|
|National Water and Sewerage Corporation||2|
|Government Ministries and agencies||8|
|Uganda National Academy of Sciences||1|
|Uganda People's Defense Forces||1|
|Uganda Wild Life Authority||1|
|International Research Organizations||3|
|Relief and Emergency Agencies||1|
Table showing distribution of workshop participants
National workshop participants
The workshop was set to build upon earlier initiatives for Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) development in Uganda by galvanizing the process and moving the process forward for Uganda Spatial Data Infrastructure (USDI). The workshop objectives included; promoting the understanding of SDI in the context of policy evaluation and usability; bringing professionals, practitioners and users of spatial information under a forum through which current experiences and ideas on SDI would be discussed; establishing a Working Group comprising of policy, users and technical stakeholders for harmonization of data, data standards, access, ware housing and information exchange; establishing an interim National Steering Committee for the institutionalization and operationalization of a NSDI and launching a process of institutionalizing a professional body of GI practitioners and professionals that would enable geospatial practitioners have an umbrella organization under which ideas and knowledge can be exchanged.
“Geo-spatial Information and Development: NSDI for enhancement of Information Access” was the theme of the workshop that guided the paper presentations and discussion. Sub-themes included; lessons from past initiatives for NSDI; Role of GIS in policy Poverty Eradication and Action Plan (PEAP) monitoring and evaluation, Geo-information needs for national development; Spatial development and utilization; principles for SDI and SDI policy
Starting off with an overview of the workshop to provide a context for subsequent discussions. This presentation focused on acknowledgement of several individuals and institutions for the support in organizing and holding of the workshop. Acknowledgements to the supporting institutions; GSDI, Office of Prime Minister (OPM), Department of Geography Makerere University, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, World Conservation Society and all participants. The presentation also touched on the importance of a forum for information and knowledge exchange. The workshop benefited from the participation of the Honorable Minister for Education, who opened with a captivating speech on the importance of the SDI. She was welcomed by the Dean faculty of Arts Professor H. Sengendo who also represented the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University. One of the issues pointed out by the minister that was pivotal to the workshop discussions is;
“…..Government of Uganda accords high priority to knowledge management which can be utilized to better understand, assess, monitor and evaluate its development programs”.
The minister also underscored the importance of SDI in providing the much needed information for poverty reduction. The minister pointed out the issues for the workshop participants for discussion including; the need to know where the poor are and at what levels for interventions, the need for institutional arrangements for sharing responsibilities in data development, the need for accurate data that is also accessible and capacity building for information management among the different stakeholders.
Following the speeches, a presentation was given by Chukwudozie Ezigbalike from UNECA about the principles of SDI. His presentation centered on geo-information for development, basic principles of SDI and some suggestions for Uganda’s for consideration in SDI implementation. This presentation was very useful in setting the stage in understanding of SDI concepts by running through issues of fundamental datasets, thematic data, Just-in-case mapping (JIC), Just-in-time mapping (JIT), metadata, standards, clearing houses, institutional partnerships and the paradigm shift from JIC to JIT. The presentation ended with some pointers to SDI in Uganda by highlighting the importance of a lead agency, a working group, policy and the requisite for government endorsement. This presentation and subsequent discussions set the stage for the latter presentation and eventual breakaway sessions.
The second presentation covered the stock taking for SDI initiatives and activities in the country. This presentation gave an account of SDI in Uganda building on the earlier initiatives to bring the workshop t the current status. The presentation also covered the current status of SDI in Uganda by highlighting some of the completed, planned and on-going SDI activities at national and regional level. The three significant SDI components in Uganda were reflected in the Economic and Financial Management Project II studies on GIS Capacity at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (2004), USDI study conducted in 2001 and the Land Information Systems study (2004). It also highlighted the different government ministries which are involved in developing thematic datasets at national and district levels. These are spread across the different sectors from infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and poverty mapping. The current SDI initiative was recognized as being under the National Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy (NIMES) which is coordinating poverty monitoring and evaluation in Uganda. Under NIMES, a GIS Coordinating Subgroup is provided for to steer the development of a USDI. This subgroup provides the basis for implementation of USDI. But among the many challenges of NIMES in USDI is its current ‘data view’ targeting poverty and thus may not meet the data requirements of several sectors such as natural resource management, security and some research institutions. There are also issues of data integration due to non-standardized templates for data collection and development as well as the issues surrounding capacity building and development in management of spatial data. The presentation pointed out three critical issues for the current SDI development; institutional framework for partnership, stakeholder involvement and the policy framework. The presentation concluded by outlining some strategic positioning of USDI through partnerships, cooperation and networking which can be built on commitment for data access. During the discussions, participants reiterated the need to view SDI development as a process to ensure involvement, engagement and institutional communication and networking.
Showcasing of geospatial utilization in Uganda was presented in two sessions. The first was an oral session in which three presentations were given covering topics on health analysis, poverty analysis and utilization of geo-information in service delivery. The paper focused on poverty analysis at national level, the criteria for analysis, how it is done and utility of the products. The presentation detailed experiences on reasons for geospatial poverty analysis, classification of geographic areas, geocoding, developing poverty indicators and methodology for poverty analysis. This presentation points out the multi-disciplinary nature of poverty analysis and the challenges in of poverty analysis in the USDI context. The utility of the maps has been overwhelming with government slowly taking them as reference material though limited evidence exist on utilization for resource allocation. Several thematic outputs are provided in the presentation.
The other presentation showcasing geospatial utilization in the area of policy review and analysis focused on how Uganda Aids Commission utilized Geo-information to analyze provision of HIV/AIDS services in the different parts of the country with the view of identifying services to whom, where and by whom. The target was to design and implement a geographic database which could offer information for identifying potential duplication of services, service gaps and streamlining networking and coordination in providing HIV/AIDS services. The indicators for service provision included prevention, mitigation and care and national capacity for intervention. The paper also gave cases on the difficulties of multi-source data integration, highlighting some of the challenges underpinned by the basic principles of SDI. From spatial referencing, coding and access issues, this paper was very stimulating not only as basis of setting the stage for uptake in decision making but eventual discussion on SDI issues for Uganda. The paper concluded with some examples of SDI and what USDI could adapt from other experiences.
Taking the show case to planning and service delivery, the third presentation focused on how geospatial information and tools are used in the Office of Prime Minister to improve service delivery in Northern Uganda. The paper starts off by highlighting the differentiated sectoral information management systems but most of which lack a spatial dimension. Emphasizing and echoing the observation of the Minister, location-based service provision was clearly flashed by this presentation. The paper provides some up-the front challenges in utilization of geospatial information mentioning issues that included standards, up to datedness, lack of documentation and capacity to maintain existing SDI initiatives. Closing in on the utilization of geo-information as a planning tool, the paper focused on Northern Uganda region outlining the services including; health, education, grazing, disarmament, energy, water and utility in conflict resolution among the many application areas. Some good visualization screenshots of the products provided participants with an experience on the influence of geospatial tools in service planning and delivery. Like the other two presentations, this paper provides a summary of challenges for USDI and the way forward. One critical issue was the coordination among institutions and agencies involved in spatial data development.
The other session which exhibited SDI utilization involved presentations from the rich and diverse posters that also stimulated discussion during the healthy breaks. Several posters were prepared by different organizations covering topics from Poverty Analysis, Census results, Environmental Information Network, Local Government Service delivery in Uganda, Rural Electrification Planning, health facilities planning based on the spread of population in the country as well as SDI as a research tool in soils and hazards assessment, land use land cover change in East Africa. There were also publications from research institutions which were shared during the workshop and poster session. IFPRI shared two of its research reports utilizing geospatial tools in rural land use and livelihood assessment. In all cases of the papers stimulated rich discussions on the challenges but also way forward.
Poster presentations during one of the healthy breaks
The workshop proceeded to address the nitty-gritty’s of USDI implementation and this benefited from a presentation that focused on the concepts of metadata, clearing houses, standards, web-mapping and GIS portals. The paper detailed the usefulness of metadata, clearing houses and data searches, emphasized the importance of common data templates for integration, data access and Just-in Time mapping as well as the different portal types. But the paper also reiterated the necessity of a lead agency, policy and institutional arrangements that could permit data access, collaboration and networking. During the discussions, participants raised the issue of standards being adopted at national level but also requiring to connect to regional standards. An example that was highlighted is the AFREF initiative but pointed out the need to look out for sub-regional standards. At national level, the Uganda Bureau of Standards would be an appropriate partner.
Workshop participants were divided into break away groups that involved lively and all inclusive discussion around the particular questions. Three broad issues were formulated for discussion and these included; the policy, standards and clearing houses thematic group; the lead agency, institutional networking and collaboration and the third group looked at strategies for data and information dissemination and access.
Participants during the break away sessions
During the plenary the participants resolved on several issues including the following:
The importance and necessity of geo-information in national development can no longer be underestimated. As observed by the Minister of Education, USDI would help build a knowledge society in Uganda and such knowledge is key to the performance of government programs and service delivery but also be utilized for research development work. The workshop involved a diversity of participants which also reflected in some way the spectrum of stakeholders in USDI. The showcases and principle-based presentations provided a stimulating discussion by participants which achieved the objective of information and knowledge exchange about SDI in Uganda. The challenge is pushing the process forward but some of the agreed upon activities such as periodic geospatial gatherings, the concept paper would offer opportunities for more discussions and engagement of more interested individuals.