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Green Legacy program critical to sustainably protect water bodies: MoWE Minister

Addis Ababa, December 5, 2023 (FBC) – Green Legacy program is critical to sustainably protect water bodies, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy, Habtamu Itefa said at a panel discussion themed “Addressing Water Data Gaps across Africa through Earth Observation and Digital Techniques”, on the sidelines of COP28 in Dubai.

The event was held at the Ethiopian Green Legacy pavilion where water was discussed as an essential part of the global climate negotiations. It was highlighted that if water is not considered in the agreement, there are risks to climate action, as many net-zero initiatives are dependent on abundant and reliable water.

The importance of water goes well beyond climate as water security is at the center of food security, health, national security, economic growth, and social wellbeing in Ethiopia, it was mentioned. However, there is a data gap on water availability, use, and distribution across Africa.

Earth Observation can fill part of the gap at an affordable cost and over wide spatial extents. African governments can harness these innovations: public domain tools and services including those provided by Digital Earth Africa and the International Water Management Institute.

In his speech, Habtamu Itefa emphasized the need for both quality and quantity of water data.

Abdulkarim Seid, Country Representative for Ethiopia at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), presented on the possibilities of earth observation tools for water accounting. He showed the possibility to capture, generate, and visualize water data at different levels.

Lisa-Maria Rebelo, Lead Scientist at Digital Earth Africa, while presenting analysis-ready data, available in Open Data Cube, said; “We learned that Africa is leading this technology, a very exciting time. We can understand short- and long-term climate impacts: drought, floods, etc. We capture data at large scales, but decisions are made at small scale.”

In the panel discussion, the minister and the researchers analyzed ways to bridge that gap and how to make data available at all levels. They also discussed practical applications and use cases and how the private sector can be involved in advisory services, according to the Ministry of Planning and Development of Ethiopia (MoPD).

The event was said to be a great opportunity to learn about the latest innovations in Earth observation and digital techniques for addressing water data gaps in Africa.

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