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SOPAC GIS training in Tuvalu builds capacity

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Twenty-nine Tuvalu government employees successfully completed a 10 day training workshop in the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) conducted by technical officers from SOPAC from August 4 to the 17th  in Funafuti.

SOPAC provides assistance to 19 island countries and territories in the Pacific region through applied geoscience and technology which includes GIS training.

GIS is a relatively new computer-based decision making tool that stores and displays information in an image such as a picture or a map format. “This allows policy or decision makers to better understand technical data and contribute to providing improved management solutions,” said  SOPAC Director, Russell Howorth.

The purpose of the workshop was for staff from a number of government departments to learn how to best use GIS in their work. Emphasis in the workshop was on the technical data to support rainwater harvesting, a method of collecting fresh rain water using a roof as a catchment with storage provided in nearby tanks.

Funafuti, the nation’s capital, relies on three sources of water, wells, a desalination plant, and rainwater roof catchments, mostly the latter.  The use of GIS in the training workshop was to determine through data collected the relationship between rainfall amount, roof catchment area and storage tank volume that would help decision makers decide on the best method of collecting the water.

The training was provided by SOPAC’s Mr.  Edwin Liava’a and Miss Vilisi Tokalauvere  and was introduced into four separate sessions on different computer software related to data management, GIS applications,  geographic positioning systems application and data capture, and image rectification.

The GIS workshop was organized by SOPAC with support from the Tuvalu National Adaptation Plan of Action for Climate Change and the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project.

Photo caption:  Discussing information they have raised on the Global  Positioning  System (GPS) as part of their training are (l-r) Fakasao Tofinga, Taumili MakaataMeelina (holding the GSI equipment) and Kilateli Epu.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:09  


Dr. Russell Howorth will continue as Director of SOPAC (Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission) for another year. He is an internationally recognized earth scientist, and retired as Deputy Director of SOPAC in 2005, after serving the region with the Commission for over 26 years.

Members of the SOPAC Governing Council confirmed the extension of his contract during their 39th Annual Session held in Nadi recently.

Dr. Howorth had initially accepted the Directorship at the beginning of this year in order to assist Council Members with the way forward to implement the decision by Pacific Island Forum leaders to integrate SOPAC into the operations of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Environment Programme (SPREP).