Empowering Communities with GIS Technology for Disaster Preparedness and Response


Disaster management has become an ongoing concern in light of climate change, urbanization, and human activities that put communities at risk. To address this issue, the use of open GIS (Geographic Information System) data for decision-making is becoming increasingly important. In Wajir County, located in the North Eastern Region of Kenya, multiple disasters such as droughts, floods, and other climate-related disasters have occurred. In response to this, several GIS training programs have been organized to enhance the technical and institutional capacity of the communities in the region to use open GIS data for decision-making in disaster management.
ICHA’s Data and Preparedness team conducted a GIS training from April 2nd to April 7th, 2023, in Wajir’s Eldas area attracting community members and several stakeholders including officials and representatives from the County government in ICT, Environment, Health, and Water. The training focused on enhancing participants’ knowledge and skills on GIS concepts and their application in disaster preparedness and response.
“We majorly involved representatives from the county and community for this training because we want to equip them with skills in using GIS data for decision-making. It is a long-term view. I’m glad that the participants are quickly learning these key GIS concepts.” Boneya Hassan, a GIS expert, and trainer, KRCS.

The training’s objectives are critical in ensuring that communities have the necessary tools to manage disasters effectively. GIS technology is a valuable tool that helps communities make more informed decisions and take a more proactive and effective approach to disaster response. The knowledge and skills gained from the program are also transferable to other areas such as environmental management, urban planning, and public health.
“The training has helped me learn how to interpret complex databases using QGIS. I can now help my organization filter the specifics needed from a particular database which helps in easy, clear, and quick decision-making processes. Fatma Saney, ICT Officer, Wajir County Government.
The use of open GIS data has the potential to revolutionize the way communities manage disasters. Communities can make data-driven decisions that enhance their resilience and improve their capacity to respond to disasters proactively. The GIS training program is, therefore, a crucial step towards enhancing disaster management in the North Eastern Region of Kenya, and it should be replicated in other disaster-prone areas globally.
The GIS training program in Wajir County is a step in the right direction toward enhancing disaster management in the region. The program’s objectives of enhancing the knowledge and skills of participants on GIS concepts, increasing awareness and understanding of open GIS data for decision-making, and increasing participants’ capacity to develop GIS products are critical in ensuring that communities are better equipped to manage disasters proactively.

Further Notes:
Kenya Red Cross Society, through the International Center for Humanitarian Affairs (ICHA), is implementing a Community Participatory Mapping in Wajir County. It is a one-year project funded by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HotOSM) ESA hub focusing on the use of map data for building disaster resilience and reducing the impacts of climate-related hazards.
The project aims to support disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives in Wajir County by working with communities and county stakeholders through the provision of comprehensive and up to datasets on buildings, roads, social amenities, key infrastructure, and vulnerabilities.