Cloud-based satellite imagery service to boost sustainability

05 February 2019

The rapid population growth, the increasing demand for land – both for settlement and for agriculture – and the industrial developments are driving land degradation including wetland changes in Uganda.  In addition, the significant pressure on land deriving from human activities is complicated by the current complex land ownership patterns that exist in this country today.

Uganda is facing several challenges encompassing a decentralisation of land management, scattered local and central institutions and, most importantly, a manual cadastral system of land administration difficult to keep up to date with consistent information. All these factors affect the growth of ownership’s demands of land in wetlands which many people claim through titles.

Elaborating a reliable and efficient land administration system for the entire country is a prerequisite to boost sustainable urban development and protect wetlands. It would also help to mitigate the current difficult processes associated with obtaining and transferring evidence of land ownership as well as generating a more attractive environment for investment.

Providing Very High Resolution (VHR) imagery with submeter spatial resolution of large regions and updating them on a timely manner is crucial to create the foundational layers of a land and cadastral system with fresh and detailed information such as seamless mosaics of nations and wall-to-wall coverages. In particular, VHR imagery can be used to identify small-scale changes and heterogeneous urban structures, enabling a highly detailed analysis of the urban morphology, including the detection of single houses and infrastructure networks.

Monitoring and preserving natural resources

The drainage of wetlands, together with inadequate provision of sanitation services to the residents of Kampala, are having further consequences and resulting in an increased pollution of water sources. This decline in water quality has implications on human health and on the economy as maintaining the quality of water has required ever increasing chemical inputs into the water treatment plants with the subsequent cost implications.

The Lake Victoria Inner Murchison Bay is one of the bays getting polluted due to human activity. The polluted surface water should be subjected to natural purification by the plants and microbes contained in the wetlands, but that is not occurring efficiently because of the large scale draining that has been ongoing over recent years. Wetlands can only be effective bio-filters under conditions of low nutrient loading and abundant swamp. Environmental monitoring and change detection are crucial to prevent a degradation of resources and public health issues. An analysis performed over imagery captured in 2015 and 2018 shows the enormous change that Murchison Bay has undergone during the last years. Wetlands loss and degradation is perfectly visible in the NIR (Near Infrared) images (Figure 2). The varying shades of red across the NIR images indicate how sensitive the satellite’s multispectral camera is to differences in vegetation cover and chlorophyll content. This is used to provide key information on plant health. Brighter reds indicate more photosynthetically active vegetation.

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