DEVELOPMENT OF A CARTOGRAPHIC STRATEGY AND GEOSPATIAL SERVICES FOR DISASTER EARLY WARNING AND MITIGATION IN THE ECOWAS SUBREGION
Keywords: Cartographic Strategy, Geospatial Services, Disaster, Early Warning, Mitigation
Abstract. The West Africa Sub-region has been crisis and disaster ridden in recent times with enormous challenges for disaster mitigation. The crisis/disasters range from conflicts fuelled by political upheaval to epidemics that take their tolls on the population of some countries in the sub-region. The crisis and disaster events have overwhelming magnitudes and are highly dynamic, requiring a well-articulated plan for immediate response in order to mitigate their effects. A study carried out by the Early Warning Directorate (EWD) of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) highlighted the risks and vulnerabilities of the region despite the considerable progress made in development and peace consolidation in some parts of the region. The study identified apparent institutional and infrastructural deficiencies, such as the lack of up-to-date geospatial data and information, and inadequate platforms for data gathering and data sharing among the relevant national agencies, which have made much of the region particularly vulnerable to the emerging threats. It is against the foregoing that the development of a Cartographic Strategy and Geospatial Services for EWD and the ECOWAS is being proposed. In addition to the resolution of the crucial need of reliable geospatial data capacity of member states, this initiative will spearhead the realisation of a Geospatial Data Infrastructure for ECOWAS Commission, through the appropriate policy formulation and implementation. Through the proper implementation of the Cartographic Strategy and Geospatial Services, ECOWAS will have the capacity to provide geospatial analysis and mapping support focusing on areas related to conflict prevention and resolution, regional planning for food security, early warning of viral diseases and epidemics, disaster preparedness, mitigation and response, infrastructural development and refugee resettlement, and a host of other vital projects/programmes for promoting ECOWAS regional integration agenda. This paper discusses the outcome of the preliminary studies and activities carried out by an Expert Group commissioned by the EWD to develop a Cartographic Strategy and propose a framework for its implementation. These include the assessment of the status of mapping and Geographic Information System uptake in member states, the formulation of policy and the realisation of a work plan for its successful implementation in the region.