UN-SPIDER and IGAC conducted a Regional Expert Meeting in Colombia

UN-SPIDER and its Regional Support Office IGAC conducted a Regional Expert Meeting in Bogota, Colombia from 12 to 14 August within the International Geomatic Week carried out by the Geographic Institute Agustin Codazzi (IGAC). The meeting brought together around 20 participants from the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

The Regional Expert Meeting benefitted from the participation of regional and international experts from the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (CRECTEALC), the International Research Centre on El Niño Phenomena (CIIFEN), the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil (UFSM) and the Central American Agriculture and Livestock Committee (CAC).  At the national level, the Expert included participants from the Ministry of Environment of the Dominican Republic; the Ministry of the Presidency and the National Contingencies Commission (COPECO) of Honduras; the National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) and the National Geographic Institute (IGN) of Guatemala; the National Geographic Institute of El Salvador; the Ministry of Agriculture, the Risk Management Unit, the Geological Service of Colombia, the Colombian Agriculture and Livestock Research Corporation (CORPOICA), and IGAC.

The Regional Expert Meeting facilitated the exchange of information on the most recent advances on the use of Earth observation methodologies. In the particular case of droughts, the presentations made by the experts from CIIFEN and CAC during the Expert Meeting gave participants an overview of the on-going El Niño event and served as a reminder to the audience regarding the severity of droughts that Central American countries may experience in this an in the next years as a consequence of this event, particularly in the Dry Corridor of this region of the world. The expert meeting included three training workshops on Recommended Practices developed by UN-SPIDER and IGAC targeting droughts and floods.

UN-SPIDER took the opportunity to frame the presentations made by various experts, the discussions, the training workshops on the use of two Recommended Practices targeting drought, and additional efforts as part of the ongoing project entitled Strengthening Early Warning Systems related to Drought (SEWS-D). The Regional Expert Meeting concluded with the identification of several activities to be conducted in the coming months within the framework of the SEWS-D project, including:

• The training of national inter-institutional teams in Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on the use of the Recommended Practices presented during the Expert Meeting;

• The elaboration of complementary Recommended Practices on drought by UFSM;

• The testing by IGAC, CORPOICA, CRECTEALC and UFSM of the combination of the Recommended Practice developed by UN-SPIDER that employs MODIS composite products and the one developed by CORPOICA and IGAC that makes use of LANDSAT imagery; and

• The conduction of additional research on ways to elaborate forecasts regarding the evolution of the condition of the vegetation exposed to droughts through the extrapolation of the sequential MODIS composite products.

The Regional Expert Meeting allowed UN-SPIDER to continue its efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean and in particular to advance on the provision of technical advisory support to countries in Central America and the Caribbean facing droughts.