Namibia - Institutional Strengthening Mission

As a follow-up to the Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) conducted in 2009 and in the context of the Namibian SensorWeb Pilot Project, this mission was carried out by UN-SPIDER in coordination with the Department of Water Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. The goal of the mission was to promote access and use of space-based technologies and solutions for disaster management and emergency response within relevant communities. The mission included a visit to the Northern regions Caprivi and Oshana that were affected by the flood in 2009 and a technical meeting with stakeholders.


Tue, 19/01/2010 to Tue, 02/02/2010

Host Institution: 

Department of Water Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry

Mission Team: 

The mission included experts from JRC, DLR, GTZ, ITC, NASA, NOAA, USRI, UNESCO, WMO and was coordinated by UN-SPIDER.

Mission Profile: 

The mission included:  

  • A field trip to the Northeastern Caprivi region and the central Cuvelai-Drainage System in Northern Namibia close to the border of Angola, which were affected by floods. The field trip included comprehensive photo documentation and GPS measurements of roads and particular geographic locations; as well as discussions with stakeholders from regional councils and relief organisations (police, fire brigade, national defense forces) to document measures and mechanism of emergency and crisis management and other relevant experiences.
  • A technical workshop organized by the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry. The goal of the workshop was to identify and discuss lessons-learned from the Namibian disaster management institutions and national and regional relief practitioners and to provide technical expert knowledge regarding the use of space technology to better facilitate international collaboration in the future.  
  • A high-level debriefing to high-level authorities including the Minister for Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the Under Secretary of the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia, and the Ambassador of the United States of America to Namibia.

Mission Outcome: 

The mission allowed experts to increase their awareness regarding the floods that have impacted Namibia in recent years and ways in which emergency response efforts are carried out at the national and local levels.

The mission took note of the existing basic capacity in several institutions in Namibia to work with and technology such as GPS and imagery. The mission team also identified that the flow of disaster-relevant information among different government institutions is still insufficient or even non-existing. This actually hinders the effective use of existing spatial and space-based information, especially as disaster relevant applications typically require information from different sectors of the administration.

Namibia - Technical Advisory Mission

Namibia is characterized by recurrent droughts. However, in January 2009 some of the worst floods ever recorded affected northern Namibia, to the extent that the Namibian government declared a state of emergency. UN-SPIDER facilitated the activation of the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" as well as the access to data. Following this event, the Government of Namibia requested UN-SPIDER to conduct a Technical Advisory Mission and to propose recommendations how to improve Namibia’s access to and use of space-based technology and information.


Tue, 27/01/2009 to Mon, 02/02/2009

Host Institution: 

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry under Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF)

Mission Team: 

The mission was carried out by a UN-SPIDER expert and two experts from the German Aerospace center (DLR).

Mission Profile: 

The mission included meetings with representatives from Department of Water Affairs and Forestry of the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry, the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) UNDP and the Directorate Emergency Management of the Office of the Prime Minister. The mission included a stakeholder workshop bringing together more than 50 participants from public and private sector of Namibia.

Mission Findings: 

The mission took note of the fact that decision makers in Namibia are not really aware of the potential uses of space-based technology for disaster management;

A limited number of institutions have basic capacity to work with and technology such as GPS. However, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry possess the necessary technical skills and in part also the equipment and the basic information layers to act as an information hub in an emergency situation;

As far as remote sensing software is concerned, geospatial imagery processing application belonging to the ERDAS portfolio are in use as well as other open source software, i.e. ILWIS;

Space-based technology and information have not yet been exploited in Namibia in a systematic way in the context of risk analysis and mapping; but very recently high resolution aerial ortho-photos have been incorporated into risk zoning of some urban areas of the country.

The flow of disaster-relevant information among different government institutions is weak due to the lack of a spatial database infrastructure;

The Government institutions are not in the position to activate the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters).

Mission Recommendations: 

Namibia could benefit from training efforts which would enhance basic capacities and development activities in the field of remote sensing, GPS and GIS for different institutions depending on their role and level;

The ad hoc task force group that was suggested as one major outcome of the working groups to foster the integration of and technology elements into the National Multi-risk Contingency Plan should be further supported;

The Government should nominate a focal point to request the activation of the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” in the case of an emergency through the appropriate channels; and to request support to UN-SPIDER;

The compilation and integration of paper-based disaster information and other information sources such as geophysical data, hydro-meteorological modelling approaches/results grated to make it useful for risk assessment (e.g. flood risk zone analysis based on records of historical events);

The government to promote the establishment of the Namibian Geospatial Data Infrastructure with the support of UN-SPIDER and UNGIWG;

Space-based information and technology elements to be introduced into the national multi-risk contingency plan at the appropriate location, e.g. for flood damage assessment and flood risk zoning.

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