2017 GSDI Small Grants Program in Kenya

In 2017, the project ‘Unlocking Government Environmental Data In Kenya through the KEIN Project’ was selected for co-funding. Background to the project is below and a link to the final meeting report.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) functions are to supervise and coordinate environmental activities, from polices and laws to monitoring and evaluating environmental impact and change. Over the past 7 years NEMA has been tasked to develop the Kenya Environmental Information Network (KEIN) Project. The Network was to bring together Kenyan Institutions that generate environmental data under a framework for cooperation and coordination aimed at minimizing duplication and easing access to data.

In 2015 NEMA signed an MOU with ESRI EA to enhance utilization of its GIS infrastructure. By the end of 2016, its collaboration with the Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI) focused on capacity building around setting up and operating a Geoportal and Infrastructure. Today NEMA continues to enhance its capacity towards developing its own spatial data infrastructure (SDI) to support the collection, management and archiving of environmental data. Given the Authorities national focus and the rising demand for data at County levels, it has become critically important to pick up the pace of development of a road map for a SDI specifically on environmental data. In Kenya, the National agenda for a SDI known as the Kenya National Spatial Data Infrastructure has been delayed for nine years’ on account of constraints around its visioning, ownership, budgetary and limited high level leadership to drive its formation. It was felt that a localized SDI program initiated at an organizational level led by NEMA under its KEIN project would have significantly less resistance. NEMA recognizes the need to operationalize KEIN ensuring that the ownership, sustainability, and leadership around the required infrastructure rest on one agency supported by partners that can work in sync towards achieving a sustainable future for the environment.

Project Description

The KEIN Project is currently collaborating with 13 government agencies focused on crosscutting. NEMA intends to establish structured institutional networking focused on the management of data whilst providing wide access to information on environmental assets. The expected outputs include the development of policy guidelines for data management, sharing, the use of a shared infrastructure through a data clearing house and the establishment of common data standards and reporting mechanisms. The development of policy guidelines for data management is already at an advanced stage and there is a need to urgently bring the aforementioned 13 agencies together to validate and give further direction on the document.

As the key driver of the project NEMA wishes to establish a common framework to unlock environmental data that is siloed in individual institutions which limits the pace and flow of data for environmental data between institutions. The grant will support a series of baseline
assessments, round tables and practical demonstrations with partners to jointly determine an agreeable SDI framework based on the National Draft Policy, including validation of the draft data management guidelines, partnership guidelines, data sharing standards and public side integration with the existing geoportal for KODI.

The first task will be to assess the geospatial readiness and preparedness of partner institutions to establish the exact capacity, current ongoing roadmaps and or gaps at partner institutions. This will evaluate available infrastructure, human resource capacity, and existing data management and dissemination guidelines. The assessment will also include an inventory of all the available environmental data that is maintained by partners and can be expected on the network over time. The second task will be to build a clearing house for environmental datasets that partners can contribute to once the protocols have been tried and tested. As the central, national coordination point, NEMA will then be well place to manage and assist with access to Environmental Spatial Data under the common framework agreed to from the proposed validation exercise and adopted SDI framework. Initially the network will be accessible to partners and over time harmonize the dissemination of data to the public.

The conclusion of these efforts will be the operationalization of the KIEN project by providing a common framework and mechanism for the production, access and use of environmental data across all 13 agencies. In turn eliminating the extensive bureaucracy across agencies that currently exists.

The Proceedings of the Retreat on Kenya Environment Information Network held on 5-6 April 2018 at the Garden Hotel, Machakos, Kenya, have now been published and can be downloaded here.

Congratulations to the project leaders – and meeting participants – for a successful conclusion to this GSDI Small Grant Project.