Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WRI Week in Review

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Moabi is the name of a tree species found in Central Africa and also the name of a soon-to-be-launched collaborative mapping system for spatial information.  Leo Bottrill, a Senior Program Officer at the World Wildlife Fund, came by WRI before the holiday to talk about his work with Moabi, some results they've achieved with the tool, challenges and opportunities and next steps for the mapping system.

He noted that there is a lack of coordination for collecting data and the situation on the ground is constantly changing, which makes it difficult to keep data up to date.  They're hoping to overcome challenges like slow internet connections and data-heavy pages by putting them onto sites that strip the data down to the bare minimum so it loads faster.

Every day my ears are going to school here at WRI as I learn more and more about the ways our environment is changing and how we monitor the situation.  I'm also curious to see how the use of smartphones, will impact the collection of data for GIS. I heard of the first African-designed smartphone during Leo's presentation.  Then, Abdoulaye shared a link to an article about it.  How cool!  They cost $170 and have no contract.  If you needed a no-contract phone, would you get this one?

Here are a few blurb-y thoughts on things going on in Central Africa.  I'd love to know what you think about them, too!

The situation in the Central African Republic is incredibly troubling and I am hoping for a speedy resolution as rebels advance toward the capital threatening a coup.  Both Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville sent 120 troops each to help thwart the rebel-advancement to the capital, Bangui - I wonder what is the significance of sending 120 soldiers?   Also, this article says France already has 600 troops in-country - that seems like a lot to me but maybe it's not?

I'll also be closely following the development of a new capital in Equatorial Guinea.  I'm curious to know what folks on the ground think of it - if they see it is an act of paranoia on behalf of their president or if they see the value in another capital city in the interior of the country even though the majority of the country's citizens live near the coast.

A new facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership was named and I met last week at an USAID-CARPE meeting!  Also, my Dad and step-mom got me Wangari Maathai's book The Challenge for Africa for Christmas and I'm loving it.  In the book, Maathai talks about her work with the Congo Basin Forest Partnership and her plight for the environment in Africa.  

What are you reading these days?  

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