Spaceborne Earth Observation Applications for Emergency Response and Disaster Risk Reduction (SPEAR)

Cyclone Idai west of Madagascar in March 2019. Image: ESA.

Disasters cause tremendous damage to societies around the world. They lead to loss of lives and property, displace people from their homes and destroy livelihoods, and disrupt sustainable development efforts worldwide. Developing countries are particularly susceptible to the impact of natural hazards as they are more vulnerable and exposed, and less resilient.

Through its spatial and temporal coverage, satellite-based information provides insights about disaster risks as well as about emergency situations when disasters occur. It supports all disaster management phases – prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery – with the aim of avoiding impacts that may jeopardize development efforts. In combination with in situ observations and data from other sources, space-based information enables evidence-based decision making for sustainable development.   

While an increasing number of African countries are developing space programmes, many countries on the continent do not have easy access to space-based information and knowledge about how to benefit from such data it in the context of disaster management and emergency response. For instance, the number of national organizations authorized to request the activation of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters, an international mechanism providing space-based information during disasters, is significantly lower than on any other continent.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, through its UN-SPIDER programme, and the Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces of the University of Bonn (ZFL) have launched the SPEAR project to understand needs, develop solutions and strengthen national capacities in using space-based information for disaster monitoring and prevention in Africa in line with international and regional frameworks. 

The project has the following objectives:

  • Raise awareness regarding the usefulness of Earth observation to contribute to efforts conducted in the areas of disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts with a focus on African countries.
  • Facilitate access to space-based data, information, tools and applications that are geared to contribute to disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.
  • Facilitate the link between the space community and the communities that focus their efforts on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.
  • Contribute to the strengthening of institutional capacities at the national level, in particular of institutions in developing countries. 
  • Apply, test and improve existing, and develop new Earth observation-based methods to strengthen disaster preparedness and response in the multi-hazard and multi-risk context in line with the international conventions,
  • Preparation and demonstration of their use at a national level, involving national mandated authorities through training activities.
  • Contribute to implementing international conventions at the national level by applying newly developed methods and processes in the fields of disaster monitoring and preparedness embedded in recommended practices.

The SPEAR project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi; grant No 50EE1804).

 
Background Information
The project aims to understand user needs, develop solutions and strengthen institutional capacities in using space-based information for disaster monitoring and prevention. It focuses on Member States in Africa in line with international and regional frameworks such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union. 
News
On this page, we will post news about activities conducted as part of the project.
Scienctific advances
This page presents information about Earth observation-based methods to strengthen disaster management developed as part of the project.
Events
On this page, you will find information on recent and upcoming conferences and expert meetings organized by UN-SPIDER and ZFL as part of the project.

 

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