Without readily available and up to date data and information, evidence based decision-making becomes difficult. According to a recent agreement, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat, the IGAD Member States and IGAD’s Biodiversity Management Programme (BMP) will receive technical support from BIOPAMA in compiling and collating available biodiversity related data and identifying the data gaps that exist.
The Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) in the Eastern and Southern Africa region are one of the key stakeholders of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme. The Regional Resource Hub (RRH), hosted by the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) and developed under the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme supports the RECs to address their needs and priorities for improved management and governance of biodiversity and natural resources.
In this regard, all the Member States unanimously agreed to undertake a joint data assessment per country, whose purpose would be to document existing data and identify the gaps in data availability as well as assessing gaps in capacity that will inform training needs. Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, the exercise was divided into two parts i.e. conducting a virtual data inventory in all the participating countries first, followed by a physical data collection exercise in countries where this will be applicable as soon as travel restrictions allow.
The data inventory tool developed by RCMRD has been shared with the countries to identify what data is available, who has it, who utilizes the data, in which format the data is availed, how it can be accessed, the data coverage, the frequency of updating it etc. IGAD has been instrumental in supporting and contributing to this exercise to ensure the countries’ participation. Sixteen officials from relevant institutions have been nominated and have participated in the demonstration of how to complete the data inventory tool. They also took part in an interactive Question and Answer session to understand the tool better and provided feedback on areas where the tool could be improved before using it. Continuous support will be offered in using this tool and filling in all the information required to ensure accurate information is captured.
So far, six of the eight IGAD countries, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, have attended information sessions to familiarize them with the tool. Two countries are yet to nominate officers for this activity. We anticipate that the countries will take two weeks to complete the information in the tool and we should start receiving the inventories by the first week of March 2021. This is a great stride for the IGAD Biodiversity Management Programme (BMP) to support Member States in identifying and trying to address the specific challenges related to protected areas data availability that will lead to targeted actions to address these challenges.