How Satellite Imagery Helped Share Resources In Chad

Article by Vera Petryk, Chief Marketing Officer at EOS Data Analytics, who shares the details of the participatory mapping project in Chad powered by EOSDA’s space technologies using Satellite Imagery.

Chad is a developing country with many communities relying on subsistence farming and pastoralism. Because of climate change and the extreme weather events it bears, it gets harder for them to provide for themselves every new year. Since EOS Data Analytics is a global provider of AI-powered satellite imagery analytics that is driven to make space tech a global driver of sustainability on Earth, it decided to help locals by supplying their leader Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim with a precise map of their area and its resources.

How Satellite Imagery Helped Share Resources In Chad

Knowledge as a way to address the conflict

Mayo-Kebbi Est is one of the regions in Chad suffering the most from climate change. The latter brings disruption in the lifestyles of people so critical it caused a conflict among local communities taking place for more than 15 years. The key issue for farmers and pastoralists is how to use the freshwater points and lands fairly.
To address this conflict, EOSDA and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim initiated a project aimed at creating a precise map pinpointing the local resources and launching a dialog on the ways to adjust to climate change and the ways it affects the environment.

“The project’s objective is to mitigate the ongoing conflict over shared resources between the communities. How? By combining the traditional spatial knowledge of indigenous people and scientific knowledge to create a sustainable resource management strategy and that way to adapt to climate change,” says Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Member of the Mbororo pastoralist people, Founder and president of the AFPAT.

Building a map for Indigenous people 101

Before creating any map, its requirements should be outlined. In November 2021, after almost two years of meetings and workshops with the leaders of indigenous territories, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim came up with an area of 1,728 sq km the future map was expected to cover.Then EOSDA obtained a satellite image of the necessary territories using EOSDA LandViewer, a digital tool for on-the-fly searching, visualizing, and processing of satellite data. On the image retrieved by the Sentinel-2 satellite, every 100 m2 was represented by 1 pixel. This means that with the map size of 2.8m x 2.3m, 1 cm was equal to 100 meters of the territory.

Having this image, the team prepared a map layout using QGIS, a software product that helps compose maps using obtained spatial data. This was necessary to annotate the map with objects important to indigenous people. In the end, the map not just contained the satellite image of the territory but also revealed areas with different vegetation densities, wetlands and croplands, as well as roads and settlements.

“Spectral indices are also used for detecting water objects. Additionally, one can use open data sources such as OpenStreetMap to identify objects on the surface and add them to the map. While working with the RGB image, we relied on brightness and contrast parameters, which allowed us to choose similar groups of objects for further map annotation,” adds Andriy Kuzmenko, GIS Analyst at EOS Data Analytics. To print it, the map was exported from QGIS in PDF format.

A map that settled a conflict

Once the map was delivered to Chad, the leaders of 116 communities living in 23 villages across Mayo-Kebbi Est assembled together and spent two weeks making necessary decisions. First, the leaders of those communities shared their knowledge of the lands and took part in the mapping exercise. During these meetings, they defined the disputed areas and resources and decided on how to use them fairly. The outcome of this negotiation was a series of compromises about crop growth planning and cattle corridors. At the end of 2021, the finalized map representing their decisions was presented to local communities. To save it, GIS specialists made high-resolution photos of it and digitized it by February 2022.

“I realized that the project means a lot for many people on another continent who struggle there and now. That’s what was driving me while I was working on the assignment. Our company’s mission and vision are to put satellite technologies, ML algorithms, and data to use so that customers worldwide can solve their daily problems. I think we managed to deliver services according to the said mission and vision, and I’m glad to be a part of this project,” summarizes GIS Analyst from EOSDA.

Following its mission, EOS Data Analytics was able to help Chad communities make data- driven decisions on their future and address the conflict that was dividing them for almost two decades.

EOS Data Analytics, a provider of AI-powered satellite imagery analytics, contributed to the project organized by Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a member of the Mbororo pastoralist people and founder and president of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT).

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