Calling all map nerds!

A month into my fellowship at CERSGIS in Accra, Ghana, we are hitting the ground running. We are beginning to lead professional trainings in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) at the National Development Planning Commission, which will be the main focus of the rest of our time here in Accra. GIS is a digital system that allows the user to perform advanced spatial analysis and ultimately create maps that make what otherwise might be overwhelmingly complicated data more accessible to policymakers, planners, researchers, or consumers.

On Monday, we had our first meeting, where we met a group of eager, talented young professionals who have been selected by the NDPC to be the future leaders in GIS for the commission. The purpose of this training program will be to establish the capacity for the NDPC to use GIS to aid in their planning, policy, and monitoring and evaluation efforts. Through the ability to perform advanced spatial analysis, the NDPC will be able to better assure that development projects, policies, and infrastructure reaches the parts of the country that need it most. My colleague Jason and I have been hard at work preparing in- depth training materials to ensure that we can make the most of the training with the relatively short amount of time that we have here.

This work is especially exciting for me because I am a strong believer in using the time that I have here in Ghana not just to provide an extra set of hands for these next couple of months, but to give my partners here at CERSGIS and NDPC the opportunity to learn skills that they will then use to develop ongoing training programs and technical capacity building after Jason and I leave. Sustainability is very important to me, and the NDPC professionals who I will be working with in the next couple of months share this ideal. The goal is to create a team of experienced GIS professional who will then be able to train others in using GIS and develop a permanent department for GIS here in Accra. For now, however, our job is to train the professionals who will make this dream a reality.