At the recent CSI-AGCommons-WhereCampAfrica event in Nairobi we interviewed some of the participants to get their perspectives on why maps are important, on their role in the response to climate change, on their use in recent crises….

Why maps? is a video produced by a Nairobi-based crew to help highlight the value of geospatial technology in agriculture.

wherecampafricaGoogle Maps has just arrived in Kenya, where it’s feared that mapping the region could inflame inter-tribal tensions over land ownership.

That’s one of the issues that came out of our meeting in Kenya last week: WhereCampAfrica.. But there is a bright side to this!

WhereCampAfrica, which was part of our First Africa Geospatial Agriculture week, brought together about 100 between geographers, cartographers and mobile mapping specialists to discuss the potential – and difficulties – of the ‘geographic web’ in Africa.

The BBC Nairobi reporter David Ogot reports with interviews to our AGCommons steering committee member, Peter Ndunda, CIAT’s Andy Jarvis and ICRISAT’s Pierre Sibiry.

To hear the issues covered in the BBC Digital Planet visit WhereCampAfrica on BBC

The Consortium on Spatial Information (CSI), of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), in partnership with AGCommons Program, has organized the first African Geospatial Week, to be held in Nairobi 31 March – 4th April, 2009.

The week will include three events, the CGIAR-CSI 2009 Annual Meeting (31 March – 1 April),  a two-day workshop on the AGCommons Program (2 – 3 April) and finally the WhereCampAfrica day (4 April): the first event of its kind to be held in Africa.

With the theme “Mapping our Future 2009-2014: Collective Action and Advocacy to Improve Spatial Solutions for Sustainable Development”, the CGIAR-CSI Annual Meeting will open the week. It is in the context of growing recognition of the importance of location as well as potentially major institutional change that the CSI holds its annual meeting. The CSI needs to respond coherently and responsibly but also with boldness and imagination to this unique time and opportunity.

It will be followed by the AGCommons workshop: Phase I of the Program is underway with consultation activities in Africa and the implementation of five “Quick Win” projects; the workshop will provide guidance for planning the second Phase of the Program (2010-2012).

The primary goal of the AGCommons Program is to identify and develop data, tools and services that deliver relevant, timely and targeted information directly to farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and those working on their behalf.

With real-time, location-specific information, farmers will be able to plan and decide more effectively which crops or livestock will perform best on their farms, anticipate and manage disease outbreaks and rainfall shortfalls, as well as decide when to harvest and to which markets to sell. The farmers’ rich knowledge on various aspects of farming will feed into the upcoming information toolkit in AGCommons that will deploy high-tech geospatial technology to the service of Africa’s farmers.

 WhereCamp Africa  is the closing event of the week: it is a free “un-conference” for geographers, mobile location experts and social cartographers and anyone interested in “place” or locational information and technologies.

The idea comes from FooCamp and BarCamp as a way to give everybody an opportunity to bring to the table the things that interest them the most and lets them talk about topics that are still new and exploratory. Part of what is important to hearing new voices and getting new ideas is lowering barriers to participation – this event is free and it is driven by the participants. Wherecamp will bring together software developers, artists, geographers and academics for a one day extended discussion, as an opportunity to present on ideas, questions, projects, politics, technical issues and get feedback from other people.

 Society is being transformed by new maps and new mapping technology. WhereCampAfrica is an opportunity to help create a free forum in Africa for people to talk about, present, explore and learn about projects that involve “place” and relevant technologies.

Top ten reasons to participate:

§         To formulate a CSI vision of the enhanced role of spatially-referenced and location-aware data, analysis, and knowledge products for sustainable agricultural development, improved livelihoods, and food security.

§         To achieve consensus on a strategy (or as a minimum, agreeing a rapid, cost-effective process for developing such a strategy) for CSI’s engagement with the donor, development and science communities in making progress toward achieving that vision.

§         To have a scientific exchange on CSI member research and implementation activities

§         To develop specific recommendations on strategic opportunities to the AGCommons Program 

§         To participate in WhereCampAfrica, the first event of its kind to take place in Africa

… only 5 reasons? Find out the others in Nairobi!

 With over 100 participants expected, the African geospatial week will be held at John Vercoe Conference Room, ILRI Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya

wherecampafrica
First of all you may wonder: What is a WhereCamp?

It is an “unconference” for geographers, mobile location experts and social cartographers and all kinds of folks interested in “place”. It will follow the annual CGIAR gathering of the geospatial scientists and on 4th April 2009 will bring together software developers, artists, geographers and academics for a one day extended discussion.

WhereCamp is an opportunity to present on ideas, questions, projects, politics, technical issues that you have – and contribute to and get feedback from other people and to make new friends with similar interests. It’s free and fun.

Why would you want to go?Society is being transformed by new maps and new mapping technology. This is an opportunity to help create a free forum in Africa for people to talk about, present, explore, and learn about projects that involve place.

What’s new about this?This will be the first gathering of its kind to take place in Africa.

What is an “unconference” ?An unconference is a conference planned by the participants. After a morning plenary to help frame the discussion we all convene together, plan sessions, and have break-outs into sessions. The idea comes from FooCamp and BarCamp as a way to give everybody an opportunity to bring to the table the things that interest them the most and lets us talk about new topics that are still new and exploratory. Part of what is important to hearing new voices and getting new ideas is lowering barriers to participation – this event is free and it is driven by the participants.

What kinds of topics will be discussed?This event is community driven and is what you make it. It provide cross pollination between many different kinds of folks from all walks of life.

Although we cannot predict exactly what will happen, topics might include:

Mobile location
Remote Sensing
Geoinformatics
Mapping and Agriculture
Food Security and Location
Community Mapping
Local Search
social cartography
Crisis Mapping
Iphones Androids and the way the web is falling into mobile

Expect to participate in conversations on the nature of place as described in pixels, with rays, on paper, and by social practice!

How exactly do I get to WhereCampAfrica?
visit www.wherecampafrica.org to find out!

AGCommons is proud to join others in co-organizing this innovative event!