Space Systems solutions for disaster management in Nigeria. The Nigerian experience

Essay 2016 35 Pages

Geography / Earth Science - Miscellaneous




2.2 Disaster Management
2.3 Space Solutions to Disasters
2.4 Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System
2.5 Satellite Communications
2.6 Global Navigation Satellite System
2.7 Meteorological Satellites

3.2.1 UN-SPIDER UN-SPIDER in Africa
3.2.2 International Charter on Space and Major Disaster
3.2.3 Africa Earth Observation Network
3.2.4 African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment
3.2.5 Famine Early Warning Systems Network
3.2.6 Global Monitoring for Food Security
3.2.7 Advanced Real Time Environmental Monitoring and Information System
3.3 Challenges of Space Disaster Control in Africa
3.3.1 Lack of Digital Maps
3.3.2 Non Utilization of Satellite Data
3.3.3 Unplanned Urban Development
3.4 Prospects of Space Solutions in Africa Disaster Management
3.4.1 African Partnership in the Disaster Monitoring Constellation
3.4.2 COSPAS SARSAT Mission Control Centres in Africa
3.4.3 Space Geodetic Techniques for Coastal Dynamics Monitoring
3.4.4 Remote Sensing Infrastructures in Africa
3.4.5 Satellite Communication Infrastructures in Africa Nigerian Communication Satellite
3.4.6 Africa Reference Frame

4.1 Introduction
4.2 History of Disaster Management in Nigeria
4.3 Disaster Management in Nigeria via Satellite
4.4 Prevalent Hazards in Nigeria
4.5 Challenges of Disaster control
4.6 Prospects of Disaster Control
4.7 Recent Effort
4.8 Monitoring of Gully Erosion in South East Nigeria
4.9 Flood Disaster Risk Assessment of Katsina-Ala River Basin
4.10 Flood Vulnerability Assessment of Shiroro Dam
4.11 Desert Encroachment in North Eastern Nigeria
4.11.1 Climatic Effect of Desertification


List of References


Over the years, natural disasters have remained an enormous challenge to most countries in Africa. Incidents such as drought, famine, floods, oil spillage and wildfires often plague various countries across the continent. These disasters, particularly those related to meteorological, hydrological and climatic hazards are increasing across the continent. The situation is worsened by unplanned and unregulated land use, weak environmental controls, poor enforcement of building standards, urbanization, and other development-linked factors that increase the vulnerability of people, property, and infrastructure.

Moreover, a large portion of the African continent is not adequately covered by ground observation network. Consequently, it is difficult to manage natural disasters terrestrially. The use of space system is one pragmatic option that is yet to be fully explored in solving these problems. Nowadays, satellites have become invaluable tools for disaster management throughout the disaster management cycle.

This purpose of this article therefore is to carry out a systematic investigation and analysis of space solutions to disaster reduction and control in Africa. Space systems would improve measures relating to prevention, mitigation, preparedness, emergency response and recovery. The write up focused on Nigeria because the disaster pattern and management in the country bears some close similarities to the conditions in most other parts of Africa.

This article gives a vivid account of findings of the study of broad issues relating to disaster management in Africa using space systems and related technologies. This write up would start by reviewing the generic ways space systems can be used in managing disasters. Thereafter, it would examine the current status of space disaster reduction in Africa, with particular attention on Nigeria. Then it would also go ahead to look at some opportunities and challenges in African by unfolding some of the global efforts of space disaster management in the continent. The article would furthermore focus on Nigeria by carrying out some case studies on indigenous effort by NASRDA to use space to manage for checking desertification, floods and gully erosion.


2.1. This section would examine the concept of disaster management. Thereafter, it would give a brief description of how space systems could be used to proffer solution to disasters. Consequently, it would focus mainly on remote sensing technologies, satellite communications, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and meteorological satellites particularly in reference to early warning, vulnerability assessment, emergency preparedness, disaster mitigation, adaptive response, and disasters.

2.2 Disaster Management

A disaster can be defined as a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources (C Westen , 2005). The consequences of disasters are enormous as it often leads to disruption of social and economic activities thereby endangering communities. In the past, disasters were considered as inevitable events which are beyond human control. In recent times however, disasters are been looked at as outcome of interactions between hazards and vulnerability. They are no longer perceived as sudden eruptions that are to be handled by emergency response and rescue services but as incidents that can be predicted, prevented or significantly reduced through effective disaster management.

Complementarily, management consists of decision-making activities undertaken by one or more individuals to direct and coordinate the activities of other people in order to achieve results, which could not be accomplished by any one person acting alone. It often requires a collective effort and resources of several individuals to accomplish a goal, which neither could achieve. Disaster Management could therefore be defined as the coordination and integration of all activities necessary to build, sustain and improve the capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, or mitigate against threatened or actual natural or man-made disasters.

Disaster Management consists of a number of phases, each requiring a different range of activities ranging from preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery. The Disaster Management Cycle is illustrated in the diagram below.

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Fig. 2.1: Disaster Management Cycle. Courtesy: S Ambrose et al

Although Africa may not be the most disaster prone continent, it is highly vulnerable to disasters because of physical, social, economic and environmental factors that negatively affect the capacity of the people to secure and protect their livelihoods. This largely due to factors such as poverty degraded environments, high prevalence of diseases and low access to social services, weak governance and armed conflict. The increasing population further worsens the situation as human infrastructures are getting more vulnerable to the natural hazards, which have always existed. The result is a dynamic equilibrium between these forces in which scientific and technological development plays a major role. Recurring occurrences of drought, floods, landslides and forest fires need to be studied using today’s advanced technology to find effective preventive measures. Space technology offers an improvement to disaster mitigation process in Africa through better predictions; detection of disaster prone areas; location of protection measures and recovery plans.

2.3 Space Solutions to Disasters

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Fig 2.2 Space Solutions to Disaster Management.

2.4 Remote Sensing and Geographical Information System

Earth Observation System (EOS) used for Remote Sensing in conjunction with Geographic Information System (GIS) are among many tools available to disaster management practitioners . Satellite images enable disaster managers to have a broad overview of the environmental situation across a wide area. The scale of view from space ranges from entire continents to detail of a few meters. Thus, many types of disasters, such as floods, droughts, cyclones, volcanic eruptions, etc. will have certain precursors that satellite can detect. Remote sensing also allows monitoring the event during the time of occurrence. The vantage position of satellite makes it ideal for obtaining a big picture of the disaster thereby facilitating effective monitoring of the event

GIS is a system that captures, stores, analyzes, manages, and presents data that are linked to geographical locations. In the simplest terms, GIS is the merging of cartography, statistical analysis, and database technology. Thus, GIS is a necessary complement to Remote Sensing and it is useful at every phase of disaster management. In disaster prevention phase, GIS is used to manage the large volume of data needed for the hazard and risk assessment. In disaster preparedness phase, it is a tool for the planning of evacuation routes, for the design of centers for emergency operations, and for integration of satellite data with other relevant data in the design of disaster warning systems. In the disaster relief phase, GIS is extremely useful in combination with Global Positioning System in search and rescue operations in areas that have been devastated and where it is difficult to orientate. In the disaster rehabilitation phase GIS is used to organise the damage information and the post-disaster census information, and in the evaluation of sites for reconstruction. Hence, GIS is the useful tool in disaster management if it is used effectively and efficiently (Pearson et al., 1991).

2.5 Satellite Communications

The role of communication services in managing disaster emergencies cannot be over-emphasized. Effective communication enhances the success of disaster mitigation and relief operations which is often dependent on teamwork. Also, in the event of a disaster, satellites are the only wireless communications infrastructure that are not susceptible to damage , because the payload and main repeaters sending and receiving signals are far away on the Earth’s orbits.

In addition, satellite communications networks provide wide coverage wireless connectivity in support of support emergency response activities. They are capable of providing a full range of communications services, including voice, video and broadband data. Communication Satellites operate with ground equipment ranging from very large fixed gateway antennas down to mobile terminals the size of a cellular phone.

Another significant merit of satellite communication system is its ability to provide connectivity over vast areas that cannot be linked by terrestrial networks. Moreover, satellite communications are able to connect difficult terrains such as marshy grounds, rocky mountainous and geo-graphic areas where it would be difficult to use alternative technologies.

Other advantages offered by satellite communication systems are:

- Wide area coverage that cuts across cuts across political or national boundaries.
- Facilitates mobile and wireless communication independent of location, demographics and terrain.
- Wide bandwidth available throughout coverage area.
- Communications cannot be obstructed by terrestrial infrastructure.
- Speedy deployment and recovery of ground equipment in case of emergency.
- Relatively low marginal cost per added site.

From the foregoing it is obvious that many of the unique communication needs for managing disasters in the African continent so closely fit the advantages offered by satellite communication systems.

2.6 Global Navigation Satellite System

In disaster management, GNSS is essential for positioning and navigation. For instance in Search and Rescue operations the location of distress vessels such as ship or aircraft is a crucial aspect in the event of a mishap. GNSS can be used to provide such critical positional information. GNSS can also be used for referencing of image for maps generation and updating of GIS for disaster management. Furthermore, mapping and field assessment can be done by GNSS. Other uses include coordination and monitoring vehicles involved in disaster operations.

GNSS could therefore be a useful means for Africa to be in tune with the current trends in ICT and accurate spatial information gathering. This space technology has an enormous potential to contribute to the management of environment, natural disasters, emergency response, improve the efficiency in surveying and mapping. It would also guarantee safer navigation to avoid maritime and aviation disaster.

Search and Rescue (SAR) initiatives like COSPAS-SARSAT make use of satellites to receive and transmit distress signals. GNSS core systems like the European GALILEO are also developing the Search and Rescue GALILEO Mission (SARGM) as a European contribution to the international cooperative efforts in SAR activities. SARGM is designed to fulfil the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Civil Aviation (ICAO) regulations and requirements in terms of detection of emergency beacons.

2.7 Meteorological Satellites

Meteorological Satellites (METEOSAT) are used to provide information for predicting areas of flood and weather conditions for disaster prevention. Some of the observations’ systems within the Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership, like the World Weather Watch Global Observing System (WWW-GOS), the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), the World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS) and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), derive their information via the use of meteorological satellites. The use of these satellites helps in predicting areas of flood and also weather conditions for the aviation industry



Over the years, Africa has been receiving global attention in various aspects of disaster control. There are several notable international organizations taking advantage of space systems in managing disasters in the continent. Also, a few African countries are beginning to venture into space applications in disaster control. This chapter would examine the current status, challenges opportunities and future prospects of space technology in Africa, particularly as it relate to disaster management. Before attempting discuss these challenges and opportunities, it would focus on some notable international organizations dealing with disaster related issues in Africa, starting with the UN-SPIDER.



The UN-SPIDER is the United Nations platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (SPIDER). It was established by the UN resolution 61, section 20, of 2006, with a mission "To ensure that all countries, international and regional organizations have access to and develop the capacity to use all types of space-based information to support the full disaster management cycle” (UNOOSA 2006). It was set up to provide universal access to all types of space-based information and services relevant to disaster management. Since its establishment, it has become a gateway to space information for disaster management support which serves as a bridge to connect the disaster management and space communities. It has also been a facilitator of capacity-building and institutional strengthening (CIS, 2008). UN-SPIDER in Africa

UN-SPIDER maintain worldwide networks of National Focal Points (NFP) locations in certain countries. In Africa the NFPs are located in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco and Tanzania. In addition, the UN-SPIDER maintains Regional Support offices in Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa. The NFPs are national institutions that work with UN‐SPIDER staff to strengthen national disaster management planning and implement specific national activities that incorporate space‐based solution in Disaster management (UNOOSA 2009).



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Title: Space Systems solutions for disaster management in Nigeria. The Nigerian experience