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Satellite users in Africa have grown rapidly over the last decade as their use has diversified from predicting the weather to monitoring environmental and climatic changes, reducing the risk of disasters and increasing access to food, clean water, fish, energy and health services.
Satellites are now able to provide fascinating longitudinal insight into the effects of climate change. Data from Meteosat geostationary satellites over Europe and Africa is contributing greatly not only to forecasting the weather but also to monitoring changes in the world’s climate to alleviate what many feel is one of humankind’s greatest current challenges.
The satellites are operated by the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), an intergovernmental organization based in Germany that encompasses 27 European Member States. Last week the 10th EUMETSAT User Forum in Africa took place at the UN-ECA conference center. Hopes are that maintaining a dialogue between EUMETSAT and the African user community will facilitate the use of EUMETSAT satellite data throughout the continent. The forum also provided the opportunity to identify actions and initiatives that could be used by EUMETSAT and its partners to meet the requirements of its African users
Over 180 participants from more than 60 countries representing the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, African regional institutional bodies, government agencies and regional scientific and technical institutions attended the forum. The biennial forum marked the second decade of the exploitation of meteorological satellite data in Africa.
The forum had the theme “Earth observation for weather, climate and environment in Africa: A vision for the next 20 years” concentrated on access to EUMETSAT data and user support, including an update on the status of EUMETSAT data availability, data policy and user support and on Earth Observation for Development in Africa.
The forum also included a “Climate Day”, which was jointly organized with the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of the UN-ECA on the third of October. The goal of the day was to present how African stakeholders can structure and strengthen their existing capacities to respond to the decision maker’s needs in terms of climate information by implementing the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) at the regional and national level.