ENDELEO/OPS - Support to remote sensing based services in Kenya to assess the impact of conservation policy measures and drought on East African ecosystems

Context and objectives

Ecosystems in East-Africa have been changing significantly in the last decades. Population dynamics, climate change and market forces have led to overexploitation and degradation. Counteracting further impact to these ecosystems is particularly important in order to decrease their vulnerability to the naturally recurring drought in Eastern Africa. As a result, there is an increased demand from ecosystem managers, both government agencies and environmental NGO’s, for updated information on the condition and the changes of the vegetation. Frequently updated vegetation indicators derived from satellite images allow to monitor the vegetation status and understand the dynamics over time. The ENDELEO project started from the realization that there is a need to facilitate the access to regularly updated satellite derived information on environmental quality in East-Africa and to lower the barriers of its use. In the first phase of the ENDELEO project (March 2007 – June 2009) Kenyan stakeholders were determined, key environmental issues were identified and analyzed, and a prototype of an automatically updated remote sensing based monitoring website was developed (http://endeleo.vgt.vito.be). The objective of the project extension ‘ENDELEO/OPS’ is to increase impact of the ENDELEO monitoring system, to maintain and enhance the involvement of the Kenyan and international user community and to assure continuity of the services by transferring the system to the local partner.

Project outcome

During the project extension (September 2009 – December 2010), the ENDELEO services have constantly been improved. Various training sessions on the usage of the tools and remote sensing in general have been offered to the stakeholder community in Kenya. An online help desk has been established to give support on the usage of the data and the tools, which helps researchers to better understand the remote sensing based information and apply it in their every day job. A lot of effort has been put into the promotion of the monitoring system. To render the monitoring system sustainable, the web services will be maintained locally in Kenya in the near future. A mirror website has been installed at the ENDELEO project partner located in Nairobi, Kenya, the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS). Once the website will be available online, the tools and imagery will be provided to the end-user community by DRSRS.

The most important realization of ENDELEO is that it has raised awareness and basic understanding on the potentials of RS for environmental monitoring at organizations which have not been using satellite data before. Several of them showed great interested and closely followed up the activities of ENDELEO. For some users more hands-on support is required before they are able to integrate RS in their tasks. Others have clear ideas on possible future applications or already make active use of the data.