UCA Builds GIS Capacity in Central Asia

Date: 29 March 2013
Other languages: Русский язык |

The University of Central Asia (UCA) is working to strengthen the capacity and use of Geo-Information Systems (GIS) in Central Asia. “Building capacity in GIS is an investment in the future of research and the wellbeing of communities in the region. The methodologies offer unique tools to take a spatial perspective on both opportunities and risks in a variety of sectors,” said UCA Senior Research Fellow Dr Bettina Wolfgramm, a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern. 

Dr Wolfgramm served as project coordinator of the 2010-12 partnership between UCA, the Kyrgyz Slavic Russian University, the Tajik Agrarian University and CDE to strengthen capacity in geo-processing for natural resource monitoring in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.  
Through the partnership, which was funded by the Scientific Cooperation between Eastern Europe and Switzerland (SCOPES), UCA developed technical and training resources and supported the participation of Central Asian scholars in conferences and advance degree programmes. Workshops on GIS education, training and research, and GeoData management were held, and modules of a CDE training manual were translated into Russian by UCA Research Fellow Dr Ainura Nazarkulova for use in the region.
GIS training workshop participants utilising geodetical equipment
Central Asian students were supported to apply to the UNIGIS distance learning programme, which offers GIS courses through a network of universities. Students from CDE travelled to Central Asia to engage in joint research with students from SCOPES partner institutions, including UCA Graduate Fellow Farrukh Nazarmavloev, who received his masters in GIS from the Asian Institute of Technology. Mr Nazarmaloev was supported in obtaining a Swiss Government Scholarship for Foreign Students to start a PhD at University of Bern, where he is conducting research on assessing sustainable land management options and soil quality in Tajikistan using soil spectroscopy.
UCA Graduate Fellow Farrukh Nazarmavloev presents during a GIS workshop
Through the SCOPES grant, Dr Nazarkulova presented on Building a Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) as a Community Project - Challenges in Emerging Economies at the 12th Global SDI Conference in Singapore, and Mr Nazarmavloev presented his research at the annual Central Asia GIS Conference on Geoinformatics: Managing Environment, Resources and Risk in Almaty in 2011. 
Dr Nazarkulova at the 2010 GSDI conference
In addition to her work with the SCOPES project, Dr Nazarkulova used GIS to prepare maps for two UCA research projects in the Kyrgyz Republic: the Osh Business Mapping Project which collected data in Osh City to support microfinance planning and marketing strategies, and UCA’s Naryn Baseline Study, which collected data in Naryn Oblast to examine quality of life issues.  
UCA currently participates in the Trans-European Mobility Programme for University Studies - Geoinformatics: Managing Energy, Resources, Environment (Tempus-GEM) to develop and implement an international, interdisciplinary postgraduate curriculum in Geoinformatics, with a focus on Central Asia. The project is coordinated by the Centre for Geoinformatics, University of Salzburg and the Austria-Central Asia Centre for Geoinformatics. Researchers with the SCOPES project and UCA Graduate Fellows have also worked with the Tempus-GEM project.
In 2013, UCA’s Mountain Societies Research Centre (MSRC) will be strengthening its GIS and remote sensing capacity in partnership with international and regional partners.  Work has begun on a socio-economic atlas of the Kyrgyz Republic. A sound data base will be developed by collecting available data and assessing information gaps.  In the future, MSRC will increasingly link research to spatial information and increase support to other UCA programmes with comprehensive GIS and remote sensing information. 

The Mountain Societies Research Centre (MSRC) is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the resilience and quality of life of mountain societies through the generation and application of sound research. MSRC has five objectives:  1) to generate new knowledge on mountain societies from academically sound research; 2) to enhance Central Asian capacity to conduct sound research relevant to mountain societies; 3) to serve as a knowledge hub for scholars, development practitioners and decision-makers; 4) to inform policy and practice through sound research; and 5) to contribute to the development of UCA academic programmes relevant to mountain societies.  Please visit: http://msrc.ucentralasia.org/
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