UNDP transfers Early Recovery Coordination GIS capacity to Jaffna planning units
Following the end of the 30 year conflict, Jaffna’s District Planning Unit was faced with the tremendous task of leading the process of recovery and development.
Having seen the types of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and databases used in other districts to facilitate planning, the Jaffna District Officers felt that their work would greatly benefit from adoption of similar systems.
As a first step, UNDP’s Early Recovery Coordination colleagues stepped in to support the District and Divisional planning units by providing information management tools such as maps, databases, information matrices, etc. While this assistance continued for several years, both parties realized the need to build a more sustainable solution, whereby the District offices would independently manage the information system, thus gradually enabling the UNDP support to phase out.
In June 2012, UNDP, in collaboration with UNOCHA, supported the District Planning Director to conduct a two day training programme for 28 staff members from the District Secretariat and 15 Divisions. The participants learned to prepare basic geographic maps including administrative, demographic and land use maps, as well as how to map out the economic development, industrial and tourism activities.
Expressing his views on the training, one participant stated, “All this time we were completely dependent on others to produce the maps needed for our office use. But hereafter we can do the maps on our own.” In fact, the two days intensive learning process motivated participants to challenge themselves, and for those who had successfully completed the basic course, UNDP provided advanced GIS training such as GPS handling and geo-databases. The Director of Planning also commended on the outcomes, saying that “The course provided by UNDP and UNOCHA was highly useful for our unit staff and they got motivated to learn further and use the system more effectively.”
Plans for further advanced training are underway by UNDP, along with an impact assessment of the basic training. The successive training programmes will aim to equip planning unit staff with the skills to sustainably manage their information systems and improve efficiency of future planning at the District and Divisional levels. The progress of this initiative can be tracked in the statistical handbook, resource profile and developmental plan released by the Jaffna planning unit.