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e-Agriculture webinar - Land and Water Data Collection using Low-cost Smartphones in Somalia

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The Somalia Water and Land Information Management project (SWALIM http://www.faoswalim.org ) is one of the few UN development programmes to have information management as its primary mission, using technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and remote sensing mapping and data collection with mobile devices and modern web applications. Managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), SWALIM has been able to successfully introduce various technological innovations to benefit communities dependent on fragile land and water resources, despite the extremely challenging environment of Somalia. 

Since its launch in 2001, SWALIM has sought to use ICTs to achieve its objectives, introducing innovative approaches and methods adapted to the particular environment in which it operates. As the programme has developed, managers have taken special care to ensure that the initiative makes full use of cutting-edge technologies as they emerge. As a result, SWALIM has become the primary source of reliable information on land and water resources in Somalia, serving as a basis for increased food security through sustainable agriculture. 

This first webinar presented the topic of land and water data collection and management using low cost smartphones. Collecting data in security constrained remote locations in Somalia is complicated by many factors including security constrains for nonlocals, restriction on the use of data collection equipment such as GPS and cameras and communication barriers among others. To address these challenges, SWALIM has developed a set of land and water data collection tools based on open source software available for low-cost smartphones. SWALIM uses these technology to undertake high quality field data collection in security constrained areas and provides results in a short period. These can be run with or without a network connection, and used to store the collected data for later transmission or uploading. The data collected is transferred to a central computer, which converts it into standard formats for data compilation, aggregation and analysis. The data collected is automatically linked to SWALIM online information platforms and made available to technical experts in near real time.

Jeremiah Njeru from FAO SWALIM
  • Jeremiah Njeru (FAO/SWALIM) coordinates SWALIM Information, Communication and Knowledge Management Unit and has supported the project to design and implement a range of water and land Information Management Systems. Jeremiah Njeru has a PhD in Natural Science from Berne University, Switzerland and has over 10 years of experience designing and building Environmental Information Systems.