Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria to Harness Satellite Technology to Avert Environmental Disasters - Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency in Ghana has urged experts in the water and hydrological sectors to make effective use of the earth observation technologies made available to the country.

Dr Emmanuel Obeng made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a training programme on the use of African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) in Abuja.

Obeng, a Senior Programme Officer in the agency, said the information gathered from many earth satellites would help Nigeria to develop its environment, agricultural and water sectors in a sustainable manner.

NAN reports that Nigeria has an AMESD satellite reception station installed in Kaduna which transmits information to three other receiving stations.

Obeng also urged Nigerian experts to use capacity in the area to harness the potential of these data to improve the environmental sector.

He said such trainings as the one organised by the Nigerian Hydrological Agency in conjunction with its counterpart in Niger Republic, would enable Nigerians to access use these facilities through its satellite reception station.

The officer said similar training programmes had been conducted in other West African countries under the auspices of ECOWAS for its member countries.

He urged hydrological experts to take advantage of the technology to improve on the use of environment indicators to avert environmental disasters.

"Currently what we are doing is that we are making the product known to all the sector institutions that we have products that we can use to monitor bush fires, we have products that can be used to monitor forests, agriculture and water.

"Thereafter, we encourage them to form a network. If these products are known, as it is, they show you trend of bush fires.

"With time, it will help them as they are directed to take decisions on it: which parts to organise people to fight bush fires because the product will show you bush fire incidents daily.

"Small water bodies that vary within the year, part of the year they will be there, part of the year they will not be there and this product will help you to know where they are and what are they; like do they have water, at that part of the year or not.

"So that it will help you to take decision, as to what to do, do we send our cattle to this place at this time of the year or not.

"The small water bodies will help you to know flooding areas, areas where there are floods, areas where they are not, and how it looks like within the year.

"So in terms of floods, in terms of bush fires, in terms of vegetation growth or decline, you will be able to know really how it is doing and based on that, it will help you to take decision on how best you can manage some of these things.

On Ghana's efforts to improve accessibility to water in line with the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, Obeng noted that the country's water sector had received a great boost through public, private partnership.

"The water situation in Ghana now is far, far improving because we have sectors, the private and the government sectors are coming together.

"The private partnership and the government is now taking the next step in improving the water sector far more better than what it used to be so that is the case of water in Ghana."

Obeng also recommended private-public-partnership to the Nigerian water sector to achieve the country's MDG target of providing 75 per cent water coverage to its teeming population by 2015.

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