Skip to main content

East Africa Learning Exchange Elevates Agriculture Monitoring Efforts

header image

Over 60 participants from more than 13 countries , including 12 from East and Southern Africa and Senegal from West Africa, as well as diverse partner organizations, gathered for the East Africa Learning Exchange March 18 to 21 in Naivasha, Kenya.

Organized by the Group on Earth Observation and Global Agriculture Monitoring (GEOGLAM) and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), with support from the University of Maryland's NASA Harvest and other GEOGLAM partners, the Exchange is a collaborative initiative focusing on enhancing agriculture monitoring and early warning systems.

The workshop provided a platform for participants to exchange knowledge, experiences and best practices in agriculture monitoring and early warning systems. By bringing together representatives from diverse countries and partners, the organizers sought to foster collaboration and strengthen regional capacities in addressing food security challenges in East Africa. In addition to Senegal, participating countries included Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, South Sudan, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, Zambia, and Djibouti.

The several countries represented have operational crop monitoring systems and have been involved in capacity-building work led by University of Maryland projects, including NASA Harvest and NASA SERVIR. 

The workshop’s overall goal was to share information on effective agricultural practices, assessing existing in-country capacities and identifying gaps, and addressing specific user needs in each country, while fostering networking among representatives from participating countries. 

Group photo with workshop participants and stakeholders. ​​​​Image courtesy GEOGLAM.
Group photo with workshop participants and stakeholders. Image courtesy of GEOGLAM.

Over the four days, the meeting covered a wide range of topics. 

Assistant Professor Catherine Nakalembe from the University of Marylands Department of Geographical Sciences presented an overview of GEOGLAM‘s Crop Monitor initiative, introduced NASA Harvest’s Global Agricultural Monitoring System (GLAM) and explained NASA Harvest’s approach to mapping cropland types and collecting field data.

Participants engaged in working sessions to assess the preliminary needs and gaps of each country, and to conceptualize how to strengthen their national agricultural monitoring systems with Earth Observation (EO) data. They gained insights into various data application platforms, focusing on their usage, suitability and complementarity to national systems.

Moreover, the workshop delved into the institutional and technical frameworks necessary for effective agriculture monitoring. Discussions revolved around aligning agriculture monitoring with other national plans and programs to ensure a cohesive and integrated approach.

Participants also received guidance through the process of project conceptualization and proposal development to assist them in securing funding and resources for their initiatives.

Lastly, the workshop highlighted GEOGLAM's capacity development approaches and tools, designed to enhance the skills and capabilities of participating countries in agriculture monitoring and early warning systems.

These sessions provided a comprehensive overview of the key aspects involved in establishing and enhancing agriculture monitoring systems, enabling participants to gain valuable insights and practical knowledge to apply in their respective countries.


collage of ICPAC meeting


While expressing their deep appreciation for this learning experience, country representatives also emphasized the crucial need for ongoing capacity-building initiatives to ensure the efficient utilization of crop monitoring tools in the region. They recognized that continuous training, support, collaboration and resources are essential to keeping pace with the evolving technologies and best practices in the field of agriculture monitoring.

The feedback from the representatives underscores the success of the East Africa Learning Exchange in fostering a sense of community and shared purpose among the participants. It also highlights the need for capacity-building efforts to ensure that the benefits of these workshops are translated into tangible improvements in agriculture monitoring and early warning systems across the region.

“By working together and leveraging their collective expertise, these countries can strengthen their resilience to food security challenges and make data-driven decisions to support their agricultural sectors,” said Nakalembe.

Sponsored by the World Bank, this initiative was a collaborative effort between various stakeholders, such as the University of Maryland (UMD) - NASA Harvest, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the European Space Agency (ESA), the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the European Commission-Joint Research Center (EC-JRC), the Uganda Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the ITC University of Twente, and the Vito Remote Sensing.

News Date
Apr 11, 2024