Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) @ 44

The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), one of the oldest inter-governmental organisations for remote sensing and mapping resources in Africa, recently turned 44 years.

RCMRD previously known as Regional Centre for Services in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing (RCSSMRS) was established in Nairobi in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the then Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Pioneered by Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania and Malawi, RCMRD currently has 20 contracting Member States in the Eastern and Southern African Regions, including Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somali, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe

The non-profit inter-governmental organisation renders services in the fields of surveying and mapping including aerial photography, photogrammetry, photo-interpretation, first order geodesy, remote sensing, calibration and maintenance of surveying and mapping equipment. The Centre also provides training for nationals of member states in the above fields of expertise.

In 2016, the centre trained more than 1,000 nationals from member States and other contracting non-member African countries in different geo-information training programmes. In 2019, the Centre boasts of the training about 3,000 technical officers annually from its member States and other African countries in the fields of surveying and mapping, remote sensing, GIS and natural resources assessment and Management, according to the Centre’s Twitter handle.

RCMRD project portfolio includes the Malawi Population and Housing Census Mapping, awarded to the Centre in 2016; the Hazard Atlas Development and the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management ( BIOPAMA) programme. The Centre manages a Web Portal and Data Repository for the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa (NELGA), a GIZ and World Bank-backed project.

RCMRD is among the 13 successful institutions selected by the African Union Commission (AUC) to serve as Regional Implementing Centres for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) Support Programme. RCMRD hosts the SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa Centre in Nairobi, a project of the USAID and NASA.

Other top-flight RCMRD grassroots programme include RCMRD Space Challenge, a climate orientation activity targeting primary and secondary schools in Kenya. The programme kicked-off in 2017 in partnership with the Trans Africa Hydro-meteorological Observatory and the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment).

In its first year, students computed trends in temperature and rainfall in various zones using data provided by RCRMD partners: GLOBE/TAHMO; and determined weather change drivers (similarities and difference) in select zones. The 2018 edition featured land cover change mapping. In its final year in 2019, the Space Challenge will feature activities that expose students to food security, health and land degradation concepts.