GIS Workshop Held in Senegal: Next in India

Participants from 11 francophone countries throughout West and East Africa, as well as Haiti, took part in a five-day workshop in Dakar, Senegal on using geographic information systems (GIS) to support HIV-related health services. MEASURE Evaluation sponsored the workshop in collaboration with the regional center for higher learning in management, Centre Africain d'Etudes Supérieures en Gestion.

Participants from 11 francophone countries throughout West and East Africa, as well as Haiti, took part in a five-day workshop in Dakar, Senegal on using geographic information systems (GIS) to support HIV-related health services. MEASURE Evaluation sponsored the April 23-27 workshop in collaboration with the regional center for higher learning in management, Centre Africain d'Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG).

The workshop’s 18 participants learned how to incorporate free and open-source GIS applications into mapping and analyzing HIV-related data from their own work. These applications included Quantum GIS (QGIS); Excel to Google Earth (E2G); and GeoDa, an application that facilitates exploratory spatial data analysis. Workshop participants learned key concepts that are important to know for the effective use of geography and GIS for carrying out evidence-based decision making. MEASURE Evaluation provided fellowships to 10 participants. 

Alimou Barry, a senior health information systems specialist with MEASURE Evaluation, led the organization and execution of the Francophone workshop in Senegal. Teaching participants how to use GIS methods, such as how to map their own data, is invaluable for improving their health systems across all technical areas, he says. “The results we got from the workshop will help people identify gaps in service coverage, identify priority zones to better allocate resources, and monitor indicators’ progress.”

Since 2010, MEASURE Evaluation’s regional workshops on monitoring and evaluation of HIV programs have incorporated GIS sessions into the curriculum CESAG teaches, but the April GIS workshop was the first to focus entirely on GIS tools and methods. Preparations included a training-of-trainers for the workshop’s six local facilitators, involving four CESAG trainers, a University of Dakar geography professor, and a Senegal Ministry of Health GIS specialist.

Barry hopes to expand the workshop to two weeks in 2013, with more emphasis placed on the GeoDa application and the use of global positioning systems. Most participants in the April workshop were able to bring their own data to use in workshop activities. “This is really the first workshop in which we were able to have group exercises in every single issue we taught,” Barry says. “The biggest achievement was to make the course practical and useful for attendees who were able to structure their data and generate multivariate maps.”

A similar GIS workshop for English-speaking professionals will be held October 8-12 in New Delhi, India. Sponsored by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in collaboration with MEASURE Evaluation, it is designed for mid-level health and population officers, program managers, and other professionals involved in population, health, and nutrition programs. To attend, applications to PHFI must be submitted by September 7.

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