UN-SPIDER Bonn International Conference "Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management in Africa: Challenges, Applications, Partnerships"

Cyclone Idai west of Madagascar on 20 March 2019. Image: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Event Organisers: 

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) / UN-SPIDER and Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL), University of Bonn.


German Aerospace Center (DLR)


06/11/2019 to 08/11/2019

Registration Deadline: 

Friday, October 18, 2019



Wedneday, 6 November 2019

Thursday, 7 November 2019 - Hands-on sessions

Friday, 8 November 2019

Agenda (PDF)

Photos from the event

Background information about the conference

Conference report

Image credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

08:30 – 09:00
(AAH entrance area)


09:00 – 09:30

Lower-level Conference Room


Opening and Welcome Remarks

  • Welcome Remarks
    Reinhard Limbach, City of Bonn
  • Welcome Remarks
    Juan Carlos Villagran de Leon, UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER
  • Welcome Remarks
    Karin Holm-Müller, University of Bonn
  • Welcome Remarks
    Gerd Kraft, German Aerospace Center (DLR)

09:30 – 10:00
Lower-level Conference Room


  • Enhancing the Use of Space-Based Information in Disaster Management in Africa [presentation]
    Juan Carlos Villagran de Leon UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER
    Klaus Greve, Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces, University of Bonn

10:00 – 10:30
Lower-level Conference Room


  • Space Technologies for Sustainable Development in Africa [presentation]
    Tidiane Ouattara, GMES & AFRICA, African Union Commission

10:30 – 11:00

Coffee break (in front of the AAH lower-level conference room)

11:00 – 12:30
Lower-level Conference Room

Introductory Presentation

  • Africa from Space and Space Technologies for Africa [presentation]
    Vanessa Keuck, DLR

Panel 1 – Space Technologies for Disaster Management in Africa [presentation]

Moderator: Joachim Post, DLR

  • Tidiane Ouattara
    GMES & AFRICA Programme, African Union Commission
  • Solomon Tessema
    Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI)
  • Ahmad Shaba Halilu or Godstime James, [presentation]
    National Space Research and Development Agency of Nigeria (NASRDA)
  • Morwapula Mashalane
    South African Space Agency (SANSA)
  • Wafa Talhaoui
    National Centre for Mapping and Remote Sensing (CNCT), Tunisia

12:30 – 14:00

Light lunch provided in area in front of the AAH lower-level conference room

14:00 – 15:30
Lower-level Conference Room

Parallel sessions 1 and 2

Session 1 – Solutions – Recent initiatives in Africa

  • The GREAT Team in Ghana [presentation]
    Victor Addabor, National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), Ghana
  • Confronting Droughts in Ethiopia with Space-Based Technologies [presentation]
    Berhan Gessese, Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI)
  • Forecast-based Financing (FbF): Modelling Drought in Madagascar for Early Action [presentation]
    Michael Kühn, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe
  • UNCCD Drought Toolbox [presentation]
    Daniel Tsegai and Jeroen Van Dalen, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • The Tunisian Experience in Management of Floods Risk [presentation]
    Wafa Talhaoui, National Center of Cartography and Remote Sensing (CNCT), Tunisia

Q & A

14:00 – 15:30
Room LEU 2105

Session 2 – Solutions – Capacity-building in Innovative Solutions for Disaster Management

  • Capacity Building in Geomatics Applied to Agriculture and Environment. An ERASMUS+ Project in Tunisia [presentation]
    Alexandru Badea, Romanian Space Agency (ROSA)
  • FANFAR – Operational Flood Forecasting and Alerts in West Africa [presentation]
    Aytor Naranjo, isardSAT
  • EO College – An Online Learning Platform for all Topics Related to Earth Observation, Remote Sensing and Image Processing [presentation]
    Robert Eckardt, EO College, University of Jena
  • African Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education [presentation]
    Bolarinwa Balogun, African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in English (ARCSSTEE)
  • From Hazard Assessment to Understanding of Disaster Risk [presentation]
    Yvonne Walz, United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)

Q & A

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee break (in front of the AAH lower-level conference room)

16:00 – 17:30
Lower-level Conference Room

Parallel sessions 3 and 4

Session 3 – Partnerships and Initiatives Supporting Disaster Management in Africa   

  • Satellite-based Emergency Mapping: Cooperation in the Era of Cloud Systems and Big Data [presentation]
    Stefan Voigt, DLR
  • International Charter Space and Major Disasters [presentation]
    Jens Danzeglocke (DLR), International Charter Space and Major Disasters
  • Copernicus Emergency Management Service [presentation]
    Francoise Villette, European Commission (EC)
  • Applications in Disaster Management: A Point of View from the Space Industry [presentation]
    Ciro Farinelli, Airbus
  • Flood Protection Programme in Viet Nam: Benefits and Challenges of Earth Observation for Disaster Risk Management in Development Cooperation [presentation]
    Olaf Neussner, GIZ

Q & A

16:00 – 17:30
Room LEU 2105

Session 4 – Advances in Space Technology Applications

  • Tsunami Confirmation Using Space Technologies [presentation]
    Mario Castro Lera, Deep Blue Globe
  • SWEET CubeSat Constellation [presentation]
    Ahmed Nasr Farid, Telespazio-VEGA
  • Towards Open Geospatial Information and Services [presentation]
    Athina Trakas, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)
  • Radar Interferometry to Map Landslides and Mass Movements [presentation]
    Norma Davila, UN-SPIDER Visiting Scientist, Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM)
  • Belarusian Earth Observation System and its Capabilities in Supporting Disaster Management [presentation]
    Nadzeya Zalataya, UE Geoinformation Systems

Q & A


Thursday, 7 November 2019

09:00 – 09:30
AAH Lower-level conference room

Short plenary session with lightning presentations (3 min) to introduce the activities of the day.
During this second day of the conference, participants will be introduced to primarily cloud-based solutions for mapping natural hazards with space-based information, which they will be given the opportunity to try.

A laptop will be required to participate in these hands-on sessions.

09:30 – 10:30
LEU 2112


LEU 2705

LEU 2516

AAH Lower-level conference room

Applications I – Hands-on sessions on:

10:00 – 10:30

Coffee break (in front of the AAH lower-level conference room)

10:30 – 12:30

Applications I - Sessions continue

12:30 – 14:00

Light lunch provided in area in front of the AAH lower-level conference room

14:00 – 15:30

AAH Lower-level conference room

LEU 2112

LEU 2705

LEU 2516

Applications II - Hands-on sessions on:

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee break (in front of the AAH lower-level conference room)

16:00 – 17:30

Applications II - Sessions continue


Morning or afternoon

Parallel activities for decision-makers from Africa


Friday, 8 November 2019

09:00 – 09:30
Lower-level Conference Room

Summary of hands-on sessions

09:30 – 10:00
Lower-level Conference Room

Innovative solutions for disaster management in Africa

  • UN-SPIDER Technical Advisory Support [presentation]
    Coen Bussink, UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER
  • Earth Observation for Disaster Management in Africa: RCMRD [presentation]
    Denis Macharia, Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development(RCMRD)

10:00 – 10:30

Coffee break (in front of the AAH lower-level conference room)

10:30 – 12:00
Lower-level Conference Room

Summary and the Way Forward

Panel 2 – Challenges in the Use of Space-Based Information for Disaster Management in Africa

Moderator: UN-SPIDER and ZFL

  • African Union Commission [presentation]
    Aboubakar Diane, Senior Policy Officer for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Cameroon
    Sylvain Mayo, Civil Protection Department, Ministry of Territorial Administration
  • Ghana
    Eric Nana Agyemang-Prempeh, Director, National Disaster Management Agency
  • South Africa
    Dechlan Piillay, National Disaster Management Centre
  • Sudan
    Nora Khojali, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest

12:00 – 12:30
Lower-level Conference Room

Discussion - Conclusions

12:30 – 13:00
Lower-level Conference Room

Closing Remarks: Summary and the Way Forward


Conference ends



Bilateral meetings between UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER and participants from Africa


Background information

Natural and man-made disasters cause tremendous damage to societies around the world. They lead to loss of lives and property, displace people from their homes and destroy livelihoods, and disrupt sustainable development efforts worldwide. Developing countries are particularly susceptible to the impact of disasters as societies are more vulnerable and exposed, and less resilient to recover when disasters strike.

Convinced that space technologies can play a vital role in supporting disaster management, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) established the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) in 2006 as a programme to be implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The General Assembly mandated UN-SPIDER to provide universal access to all countries and all relevant international and regional organizations to all types of space-based information and services relevant to disaster management to support the full disaster management cycle.

In recent years, the quality of satellite sensors, access to and use of satellite imagery and Earth observation services has significantly improved, with more and more space agencies embracing open data policies that facilitate access to archived and up-to-date imagery. Such remotely-sensed data can be combined with in situ information from a variety of sensors and with other data sources such as crowdsourced geotagged images to generate relevant information. Through Big Data approaches, diverse data sources can be used synergistically to create insights that would not be possible through the exploitation of a single source. The increasing presence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques in remote sensing, such as deep learning, helps mine the massive amounts of big space data more efficiently, for instance to quickly determine whether a road is still passable or not following a disaster.

Taking note of these advances in space technologies and other technological advances, the African Union outlined in its 2017 African Space Policy that space represents a unique opportunity for cooperation in using and sharing enabling infrastructure and data towards the proactive management of responses to natural hazards and disasters, amongst other fields. In this way, the African Union aims to promote the use of space applications for improving weather forecasts and to develop a range of early warning systems, as Africa is subject to various extreme weather, climate, ecosystem and geological events.

Strengthening technical skills and setting up institutional and inter-institutional structures is important to ensure that the benefits of space-based information reach civil protection agencies and other actors involved in disaster management activities. Partnerships can facilitate access to data, for instance through emergency mechanisms such as the International Charter Space and Major Disasters.  Recently, the European Union and the Government of Germany identified international cooperation with Africa as one of the priorities as highlighted in the Marshall Plan with Africa of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Africa Strategy 2014-2018 of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the G20 Compact with Africa.

This International Conference will take up the issues raised above and continue identifying challenges, highlight solutions and encourage partnerships for using space technologies for disaster management in Africa.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The International Conference aims to contribute to an increased use of big space data approaches and satellite-based application in African countries to respond to challenges posed by natural hazards. More specifically, the event aims to:

  • Showcase recent advances and identify challenges to the use of space-based information, big data approaches and artificial intelligence techniques such as machine learning in disaster management in Africa.
  • Present and provide a hands-on experience of space-based applications through tutorials on technical solutions ranging from standalone desktop packages to cloud computing environments that facilitate the access to and use of space-based data and information products for disaster management.
  • Build on the outcomes of UNOOSA international conferences and symposia to identify capacity-building needs and opportunities regarding full use of the increasing amount of space-based information and new techniques to access, combine, process, analyze and present the data.
  • Provide a forum to discuss partnerships to facilitate access to data and applications tailored to the needs of disaster management stakeholders in Africa.

Financial support

Due to funding constraints, the organizers will be able to offer support to only a limited number of participants from Member States. The support will defray the cost of travel (round-trip ticket - most economic fare - between the airport of international departure in their country of residence and Bonn, Germany) and/or room and board expenses during the duration of the event.

Life and health insurances

Life/major health insurance for each of the selected participants is necessary and is the responsibility of the candidate or his/her institution or Government. The organizers will not assume any responsibility for life and major health insurance, nor for expenses related to medical treatment or accidents. Please pay attention to the online application form when registering for the conference.

Target Audience: 

Staff from national, regional, and international public and private organizations and institutions.


UN Campus

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