20 May 2005

United Nations Holds Seminar on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management     

VIENNA, 20 May (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, will hold a five-day International Seminar on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management: Prevention and Management of Natural Disasters. The Seminar is being organized in cooperation with the Algerian Space Agency, on behalf of the Government of Algeria. It is co-sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), and will take place in Algiers, Algeria, from 22 to 26 May.

The objective of the Seminar is to increase the awareness of national and regional users of the potential of space technology for preventing and managing natural disasters. This would contribute to the incorporation of space-based technology solutions in disaster reduction and management activities, particularly in the North African region.

The main topics that will be discussed at the Seminar are the use of space technology for forest and grassland fires, geo-hazards, floods, desertification and entomological risks such as locust peril.

The presentations on forest and grassland fires will include the development of fire risk assessment systems, the reinforcement of management and information systems, and the establishment of networks for surveillance, communication and data access. Seismic risk presentations will include the integrated use of remote sensing for the production of seismic risk maps. Several presentations demonstrating the use of information derived from satellite imagery for flood monitoring and management are also planned. These presentations will include discussions on existing and planned systems for real-time monitoring of flood events.

The recent locust invasion in the Sahel and Northern Africa have alerted the world to the severity of this disaster and the presentations on this topic will demonstrate the potential of satellite imagery for dealing with this hazard. Climate change and human activity have contributed to the increase in desertification. Presentations focusing on land degradation and desertification will demonstrate the usefulness of remote sensing for assessing and managing the problem.

More than 100 participants, including decision-makers and technical experts from space technology and civil protection institutions, from the following countries, entities and international organizations are expected to attend the Seminar: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Palestine, World Food Programme and OOSA.

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The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Under the Programme, the Office conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on applications and capacity building in subjects such as remote sensing, communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, satellite navigation and space law.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at  http://www.unoosa.org/.