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On 7 November 2022 Zimbabwe and Uganda launched their first satellites. Zimbabwe’s ZimSat-1 and Uganda’s PearlAfricaSat-1 are part of the BIRDS-5 constellation, which is now on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). The satellites are scheduled to be released from the Japanese Kibo module on 21 November 2022.

The launch of these satellites can be seen as a milestone for the efforts in space activities for Zimbabwe and Uganda, supporting mineral exploration, monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts, human settlement and disease outbreak mapping, and other potential fields of applications.

BIRDS-5 is a constellation of CubeSats, and a project led by the Graduate school of Engineering of the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. 

Image Source: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/topics/cubesats

Publishing date 08/11/2022

Millions of people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are struggling to cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which has swept through this part of southeast Africa over the last weeks, leaving devastation in its wake. It is thought that more than two million people in the three countries have been affected, but the extent of destruction is still unfolding.

The authorities and military are working  to rescue people, but roads and other transport and communication links are cut off. In order to plan and execute this kind of emergency response it is vital to understand exactly which areas have been affected, especially as accessing people cut off is extremely challenging.

The disaster triggered activations of both the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service and the…

Publishing date 04/04/2019

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), as part of the support it provides to Member States through its UN-SPIDER programme, has requested the activation of the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters" for monitoring the impact of Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe, which hit the country's eastern provinces on 15 and 16 March. The Charter was activated on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Zimbabwe country office.

Geospatial experts from UNDP in Zimbabwe will…

Publishing date 18/03/2019

Officials in Zimbabwe say that the floods which follow a crippling drought have destroyed crops, livestock and roads as they swept through villages in the south of the country. They have left some 2,000 people homeless and some communities have been cut off by the damage to roads.

Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has declared the floods a national disaster.

The floods have further aggravated the problems many Zimbabweans are facing since the crippling drought. More than 4 million people are estimated to be in need of food since last year.

Publishing date 04/03/2017

The International Charter: Space and Major Disasters has been activated on 7 February following the request of UNITAR/UNOSAT on behalf of OCHA Zimbabwe. The activation was due to flash floods caused by heavy rain.

The amount of rain is unusual for this area and is almost double the normal level. Low lying areas are especially vulnerable. Mudslides have killed one person. Thousands of people has been evacuated and further flooding is expected. 

Publishing date 07/02/2014
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At the request of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing of Zimbabwe, UN-SPIDER and the National Office of the United Nations Development Programme in Zimbabwe carried out a Technical Advisory Mission to Zimbabwe from 19 to 23 November 2018 to assess the current and potential use of space-based information in all aspects of disaster management in Zimbabwe. It also aimed to strengthen disaster management efforts in the country – including disaster risk management and emergency response aspects – by providing support in accessing and using space-based information for the full disaster management cycle. 

The mission was led by a programme officer from UN-SPIDER and conducted with the support of experts from the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD, the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office in Kenya); from the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences in Germany and from France. An expert from the Institut des Regions Arides, Tunisia, was consulted remotely.

As part of the mission, the team of experts visited 20 institutions including the Department for Civil Protection of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Climate and Rural Resettlement – AGRITEX, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Meteorological Services Department, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, the SubAqua, Police Special Rescue Unit, the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre, the Zimbabwe Red Cross, the University of Zimbabwe, the Bindura University of Science and Technology, the Higher Life Foundation of EcoNet and the NGO World Vision International. In addition, the mission team held meetings with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and with the country offices of UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, FAO, and WHO; as well as with the European Commission’s ECHO Mission team.

During the TAM, a one-day national workshop was organized on 22 November 2019. The workshop brought together between 65 and 70 participants, including the members of the TAM team and local stakeholders from ministries, government departments, academia, the private sector and international organizations. A wide variety of subjects were addressed during the workshop, including remote sensing applications for disaster management; availability of online satellite imagery resources and services covering drought, floods or fire monitoring; and the use of weather and climate information. Participants also discussed institutional arrangements, data exchange and sharing policies needed, and best practices in the use of space-based technology in other countries. The event was an occasion for awareness-raising about existing international mechanisms that make satellite information available to support disaster preparedness and emergency response.