Myanmar from space, a different perspective


A key objective for the EO4SD on water resources management is to support the development of the required human, technical and institutional capacity to empower stakeholders with the ability to utilize the Earth Observation (EO) data and services in an independent and sustainable manner.

A capacity building event on EO for river basin planning and sustainable land and water management was therefore held in Myanmar this week. The main objective for the week-long event was to increase the competency of decision makers in understanding the wider context of different satellite systems to support their operational responsibilities and to provide hands-on experience for participants to retrieve, analyse and integrate EO based information as support for project identification, monitoring and evaluation.

The workshop addressed three main topics; reviewing main issues and information needs in ongoing developing projects, in-depth presentations of projects on river basin planning and sustainable land and water management in Myanmar with knowledge sharing of EO demonstrations, and lastly building basic EO and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) knowledge through theory and hands-on experience.

The three projects involved in EO4SD in Myanmar are listed below:

- Ayeyarwady River Basin Management Project (World Bank)
- Irrigated Agriculture Inclusive Development Project (Asian Development Bank)
- Agricultural Development Support Project (World Bank)

The outreach of the event was high with 56 participants from 8 different government institutions. The need for geospatial and EO data was highlighted throughout, where some of the main challenges users face in their day-to-day work are data gaps, restrictions on access and sharing data, insufficient hardware and frequency of data.

Earth Observation services can ‘fill’ these data gaps, not only by providing near real-time data, but also because of the extensive historical archive of freely available satellite images. Users between institutions need to collaborate through the EO4SD e-learning portal to get a better understanding of EO and therefore EO4SD also assists in more and improved data sharing between those institutions.

Participants were keen on learning about EO techniques and were shown how to access raw Sentinel data online and to develop their own products. Since many only had basic GIS knowledge and had not worked with EO data before, data management and processing was the main challenge along with outdated hardware. However, most of the technical staff were fast learners and quickly grasped the techniques. The overall reaction was positive towards EO services and technical staff seemed eager to make use of their newly developed skills in their day-to-day work, and to teach other staff on how to use the e-learning portal and produce EO products.