Tiger capacity building facility: Growing from projects to professional community

Z. Vekerdy, B. Su, M. Menenti, E. Swinnen, Marco Painho, D. Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Water security has become one of the most important challenges in the sustainable development of Africa, but only limited reliable information is available on the use and availability of water to support adequate planning and management of water resources. Data acquired from space can contribute to meet the urgent information need. But to satisfy the demand, a good synchronization based on a shared knowledge is required between water managers, who can indicate their specific information needs; developers of the satellite-based data, who can indicate what information can be provided; and the knowledge institutes, which transfer their knowledge on collection and dissemination of the information to users. In other words, a continent-wide capacity is needed to utilize Earth Observation (EO) technology. In the context of the Committee of Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), ESA launched the TIGER Initiative in 2002 as a concrete action to match the resolutions of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg. The initiative aims at assisting African countries to overcome problems faced in the collection, analysis and dissemination of water related geoinformation by exploiting the advantages of EO technology. The first phase was completed in 2008, which contained a capacity building facility (TCBF) that supported about 100 individuals from more than 20 institutions all around the continent with training at various levels and methods: 1. Basic education, provided via distance learning. 2. Tailored short courses, selected according to the research interest and technical background of the participants. 3. Research topic oriented supervision, provided by specialists of the research fields of the participants. 4. Advanced short courses focusing on selected earth observation techniques. ITC implemented the TCBF. Today we are in the second phase of the TIGER Initiative (TIGER II), which aims to build upon the success of the first one. TCBF II is implemented now by a consortium of four partners (ITC, TU Delft, VITO and ISEGI-UNL), with the aim of supporting 20 research projects and establishing 3 Regional Offices in the time span of 2009-2012. They support African efforts to develop sustainable observation systems by using EO technology to learn more about the water cycle and to improve water-monitoring resources that will help to establish sound scientific bases for developing effective adaptation or mitigation measures against the impacts of climate change. The TCBF focuses on the research component of TIGER II that supports African scientists furthering their scientific skills and the technical capacity to address the issue of the water resources in Africa. The second phase is more complex than its forerunner, although the applied capacity building tools are similar to the first phase. For example, the first training course on earth observation basics was held in Cairo in April 2010. Twenty three participants were supported by the TIGER programme, and another eleven joined using their own resources. There is a larger variety of participating institutions, from universities to regional water authorities. It is a very important aspect that several projects address trans-boundary issues with multinational staff. The participating institutions and regional offices get free access to ESA satellite data. A large number of training activities are being implemented with the aim of broadening the EO literacy among the information users, i.e. the water practitioners, and providing higher academic qualifications to the key players in EO research and education, to enable them to teach new generations of EO specialists and users in Africa. Besides capacity building, these activities contribute to building a community that unites the users of earth observation technology for water applications around the continent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-95
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences - ISPRS Archives
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010
EventISPRS Mid-Term Symposium Commission VI on Cross-Border Education for Global Geo-Information - Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 2 Jun 20104 Jun 2010


  • Earth observation
  • Tiger capacity building facility
  • Water resources management


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