BETHLEHEM. We are in! Saudi Arabia, UAE and Palestine – the three countries in the Middle East accepted to participate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS Day 2012). For a first time in the history of this global movement also Palestinian people had opportunity to join this amazing experience!
The first GIS Day took place in 1999 in the United States as an initiative for people to learn more about geography and uses of GIS. GIS Day is an opportunity to explore benefits of GIS, to build and nurture the GIS community and celebrate it with everybody. Therefore every year in the third week of November Esri includes GIS Day as a part of Geography Awareness Week. This week is dedicated to spread geographical knowledge and the better understanding of how our planet works.
WEDO / FoEME took the initiative to organize this event in our Auja Ecocenter in order to enable people from all corners of Palestine to participate. The event was dominated by discussion on water issues with more than 35 enthusiastic visitors from local communities and schools involved to learn and share ideas on the practical use of GIS. There were participating workers and mayors from the Municipalities of Auja, Jericho, Fasayel, Yatta, Battir, Tulkarem and Al Jalama.
GIS Day kicked off with welcoming words from FoEME’s, Good Water Neighbors Palestinian Manager Mohammed Obidallah. Malek Abulfailat, FoEME’s Protecting Ground Water Palestinian Manager answered the basic question: “What is GIS?” for the audience. The core of lectures and discussions was presenting achieved results in running water management projects. Possible applications in target areas and hazard mapping using GIS software for monitoring of water contamination sources in attended community’s areas were presented.
“GIS system give us a lot of information about roads and environment …needed for purposes of municipality operations.” said Mohammed Isayed from Jericho municipality, declaring importance and benefits of utilizing GIS in municipal projects.
The participants enjoyed a rich accompanying program after lectures too with time to see posters presenting GIS in various spheres of life e.g. transportation, agriculture and rain forest management. Detailed maps of different towns and villages in Palestine with environmental hazard of waste contamination were displayed as well as educational videos about the importance of geo-literacy and utilization of GIS in Asia.
This activity was held in the framework of the Protecting Ground Water and Good Water Neighbors projects. We hope all these activities advance global understanding of the presented issues and inspire participants about GIS applications at the local level…in their everyday work and life.
This blog was contributed by FoEME intern, Marek Krajčuška, who bore the responsibility of organizing the technical background of GIS Day and is working with FoEME on the Protecting Ground Water Project.