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Title: Using Remote Sensing Data for Earthquake Damage Assessment in Afghanistan: The Role of the International Charter
Contributor(s): Kandeh, Joseph Maada Korsu (author); Ahadi, Abdul Wali (author); Kumar, Lalit (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2005
DOI: 10.1007/3-540-27468-5_60
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Abstract: Afghanistan is located in a zone of high-seismic activity. Given the rugged and mountainous nature of the country and the location of villages, towns and cities, there is propensity for widespread death and destruction due to landslides whenever an earthquake occurs. Use of satellite imagery by humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan in preparation for and response to natural and man-made disasters has been very limited, mostly to International organizations such as the United Nations. Earth Observation Satellites (EOS) due to their vantage position have demonstrated their ability to rapidly provide vital information and services in a disaster situation. EOS has been used in emergency situations where the ground resources are often lacking. The perception amongst humanitarian agencies and civil protection authorities in most developing countries is that the cost of satellite imagery is not cheap. With limited budgets available for purchasing satellite data, they tend to opt for less expensive solutions such as interagency survey teams to assess damages. The rugged and mountainous nature of Afghanistan and the lack of roads in most parts of the country, survey teams are most often hampered, leading to delays in delivery of information from the field to the decision makers. Recent earthquake in the Hindu Kush of the country in April 2004 witnessed the triggering of the International Charter for free delivery of satellite imagery. Image analysis and interpretation of both pre and crisis data did not show observable features of damages. The damage assessment maps were used by the humanitarian community for decision-making. Availability and access to space technology in addressing natural disasters have been the main obstacles facing developing countries particularly those poor countries without their own space programs. This problem has been solved through the introduction of The International Charter for major disasters. However, knowledge about the Charter is not common knowledge in most developing countries; Disaster Management Authorities, the Academic Institutions, humanitarian agencies and the affected communities have very little idea about the availability and access to free satellite imagery. There is need for a massive awareness campaign to educate decision makers about the International Charter and the potentials of using space technology in addressing problems relating to disaster management and the environment. The skills to process satellite imagery and integrate it with other GIS layers are lacking in most developing countries; there is need to embark on a massive capacity building exercise to ensure optimization of the benefits of the technology. The Charter needs to find innovative ways of quickly sending value added information products to disaster management authorities instead of relying on in-country skills in image processing. This paper elaborates on the experiences gained working with images received from the International Charter, and the immense pressures from the humanitarian community for rapid delivery of information.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Geo-Information for Disaster Management, p. 829-840
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Place of Publication: Heidelberg, Germany
ISBN: 9783540249887
Field of Research (FOR): 050205 Environmental Management
090905 Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
090903 Geospatial Information Systems
HERDC Category Description: B3 Chapter in a Revision/New Edition of a Book
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