Capacity Building in GIS for Risk and Hazard Assessment

Capacity building in geographic information systems (GIS) is becoming a basic requirement for people carrying out spatial analysis. It is one of the keys in realizing the reduction of risks to hazards. Kenya having suffered from several hazards as a result of the changing climatic conditions, with the hazards changing trends is introducing GIS in addressing the hazards. GIS is a tool that is globally used with a high percentage of success in identification, monitoring and management of the impacts of hazards and reduction of risks. The developments in identification and monitoring activities related to hazard assessment have greatly improved in the developed countries in contrast to the developing countries, this being generally because of the improved capacity in GIS. The capacity in GIS is low in the developing countries, for example in Kenya. This is due to lack of its introduction in the higher learning institutions. GIS was introduced in middle level colleges first. There it was and is offered at diploma and certificate level. The introduction of GIS into the University started as single units in the various departments and a very low progress in integrated and practice oriented curricula development can be observed for the last 10 years. Maseno has a strong capability of developing into a hub for GIS in this region. It is located in an area surrounded by Kisumu city, several secondary schools, and a research corridor. For Maseno to develop into a hub, it is important that awareness is created in the other departments within the university by holding short courses adapted to their areas of interest. The surrounding communities and research institutions can also be trained. The development of proper training labs and materials by collaborating with other institutions that are familiar with GIS is very important. The development of training curricula by sharing experiences with experts for all levels in the university (undergraduate, postgrad-uate, master and PhD) is necessary. Collaboration with other institutions encouraging sharing of methodologies, development of work groups and research findings, sharing of resources and technology will play a major role in enhancing development. Maseno has the potential of influencing a large population with a very strong multiplier effect for GIS. This is confirmed by the employment offers the students and members of staff who have trained in GIS receive. Maseno being in a zone of devastating floods (Nyando River and Nzoia River) will contribute extensively to researching and arriving at solutions using its enhanced GIS capacity. With the development of GIS infrastructure it will contribute to the solutions of poverty alleviation by reducing flood risks and hence achieving one of the millennium development goals of poverty alleviation.
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