15 Mar 2016 19:40pm
WINDHOEK, 15 MAR (NAMPA) The University of Namibia (UNAM) on Tuesday launched the Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) satellite data receiving station, which will enable it to have a direct satellite link to important environmental data for research and teaching.
UNAM is hosting the satellite data receiving station for the MESA Southern African Development Community (SADC) Thema project.
The MESA programme in SADC contributes to the well-being of people in the region by helping reduce negative impacts from climate induced hazards such as droughts, floods and wildfires.
Speaking at the launch, UNAM Vice-Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula said the station is an important milestone in the history of the university, as the world is affected by a variety of environmental problems and climate change.
He added the SADC region is regularly afflicted by droughts, wildfires, floods, heat waves, water scarcity, land degradation and natural resources depletion.
This year is no exception, as El Niño has brought both drought and floods to Namibia and neighbouring countries.
Scientists are already telling us that an increase in global temperatures will cause sea levels to rise, which in turn will affect rainfall patterns and will probably lead to expansion of the subtropical deserts.
Environmental monitoring is therefore very important, now more than ever before, as it can help the country detect early warning signs, discover trends and establish thresholds, which can help mitigate disasters and ultimately save lives.
Hangula stressed that as a university, UNAM is heavily reliant on good quality data for research and for development of the human capital for the future.
He explained that in order to achieve sustainable management of the limited resources on the planet, access to timely and reliable data for informed decision-making is essential.
To manage natural resources, he said, one needs to monitor and measure them properly and space technologies provide very valuable tools to do so and allow for monitoring the condition and status of crops, forests, rangelands and rates of desertification. It also enables monitoring of the oceans, improvements in weather and climate forecast and assessing natural disasters.
Hangula noted that Earth observing satellites have been orbiting the globe and taking the pulse of the planet for over three decades, will continue to do so in more sophisticated ways and as a result, every time they pass over Namibia, the country get a snapshot of the situation on the ground.
The MESA Project is a European-funded programme implemented with the overall coordination of the African Union Commission (AUC).
According to a pamphlet on MESA, under a thematic action grant contract with the AUC, the SADC Thema is implemented by Botswana Department of Meteorological Services (BDMS) and SAC Climate Services Centre (SADC-CSC) in partnership with five regional strategic co-beneficiary organisations.
These include the Agriculture Research Council; Botswana College of Agriculture; Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Meraka Institute; the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust); and the University of Zimbabwe.