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The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda launched the Pulse Lab Kampala at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Thursday, with a call for stakeholders to invest in designing better and more modern early warning and monitoring systems.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, the Swedish Ambassador to Uganda and his Danish counterpart, Urban Andersson and Dan Frederiksen, respectively, whose countries are the major project donors, graced the occasion.
Eziakonwa-Onochie said “Uganda was selected to host Pulse Lab Kampala because of the country’s reputation as an early adopter of innovations”. She highlighted the strategic relevance of the initiative to support the UN’s Delivering As One process.
“Constant population movements have increased the risk of disease outbreaks previously eradicated from Uganda, such as polio; increased populations have led to the reduction of arable land, thus leading to food shortages,” Dr Rugunda noted.
He explained that encroachment on gazette land in wetlands, mountain slopes and game parks led to increased incidences of natural disasters such as floods, landslides and epidemics including Ebola, as well as other socio-economic upsets.
“Pulse Lab Kampala offers us the opportunity to harness new data and technologies to detect – in real-time – the changing population behaviour in response to crises,” the Prime Minister said.
The initiative is part of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s flagship data revolution, with a mission to accelerate discovery, development and scaled adoption of data innovation for sustainable development and humanitarian action.
It has been set up in Uganda as an interagency initiative supporting the UN to help Government and development partners better understand the impact of socio-economic crises on Ugandan populations, for better policy options and service delivery efforts.
Dr Rugunda noted that the Government, through the National Development Plan, was committed to transforming Uganda into a modern and prosperous country within 30 years, supported by an environment necessary for sustainable development.
“Uganda’s position in the Region has become more strategic and significant, politically, economically and socially,” he noted. He said she now plays an important role in maintaining peace and security of the Region, is a key business hub and home to thousands of refugees from various countries in East, Central and the Horn of Africa.
The Pulse Lab Kampala team led by its Manager, Dr Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis exhibited their digital works in the country so far. The Prime Minister was taken around the exhibition by the UN Global Pulse Director, Robert Kirkpatrick who is based in New York.
The show featured leveraging news and social media, community radio and sentiment analysis, mobile-based crop disease monitoring, mobile phone data analysis to strengthen vulnerability mapping, and satellite data analysis for environmental changes.