The Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region is a trade block which includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. Policy and decision makers from the various governmental bodies, environmental institutions and experts of the IGAD region and beyond were gathered at the Villa Portofino Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda between the 20 - 21 February. The meeting was convened to examine a draft Earth Observation Policy and assessment report for IGAD that arose from the lack of a harmonised and coherent policy framework for Earth Observation (EO) data in the region.
The MESA project is active across the entire continent, and is focused on the use of EO data for Africa as a whole; while in the IGAD region the concentration is on products and services derived from the same in the three thematic areas namely; Land Degradation Assessment, Natural Habit Conservation and Forest Monitoring Services. Mr. John Ntaganda was the guest of honour and director of the Rwanda National Meteorological Agency and Permanent Representative to WMO. In his opening remarks, he stated that, "As policy and decision makers, it is our responsibility to work in synergy through harmonized strategies, sound and informed decision making in order for our countries and ultimately our continent to achieve sustainable development."
During the official opening of the two day meeting, Dr. Debalkew Behre, representative of the IGAD Secretariat said, “IGAD will continue to be at the forefront of bringing together partners at the global, national, and local levels, from all actors – governments, NGOs, the private sector, civil society and community groups, and ordinary citizens – in collaborative efforts towards sustainable development and environmental improvement.” The African Union was represented in the meeting by Mr. Jolly Wasambo who emphasised the need for African decision and policy makers to work together in the spirit of Pan-Africanism, in order to achieve the common goal of the creation of safe environments and inclusive growth.