The Seychelles are one of the five Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) member states implementing an Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI) under the South West Indian Ocean Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (SWIO RAFI). A key component of this effort involves the quantification of site‐specific risk of floods, earthquakes and tropical cyclones and their secondary hazards such as storm surge and tsunamis.

Understanding Seychelles’ Risk

The SWIO-RAFI was established at the request of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) on behalf of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Zanzibar. The goal of SWIO RAFI is to improve the resiliency and capacity of the island states through the creation of a foundation for the future implementation of disaster risk financing strategies. With regard to natural disasters affecting the Seyshelles, it is tropical cyclones, heavy rain and Tsunamis that are most relevant, followed by landslides and wildfires. The island of Farquhar was hit by a tropical cyclone in April 2016 with a severe impact, and heavy rain (mostly in December and January) causes flooding on the main islands to some extent each year (although that has improved in recent years by upgrading the drainage system for example).

Collecting Data

A Tsunami simulation recently performed (as part of the IOWave 2016 exercise) showed that data on exposure in particular is often missing or much outdated. It is mostly the lack of resources (manpower and funding) that prevents organisations from maintaining key datasets on exposure (and other topics, too). Since most of these datasets would be useful for many organisations and sectors, sharing efforts in data collection and maintenance would only make sense and be beneficial to everyone. Because of that the key organisations involved in disaster risk management looked at ways to share efforts and identified OpenStreetMap (OSM) as one great tool/technology to support that idea. Especially information on structures/buildings is crucial for almost all organisations and could perfectly be captured and shared through OSM. A training on OSM was provided by the OpenDRI team to the key organisations involved in disaster risk management. A second option that was discussed as a way to improve the data situation is crowdmapping. A relating project is currently set up with the University of Seychelles (UniSey).

Sharing Data

In order to quantify risks, data on hazards and exposure is required. While some data is available for the Seychelles it is often fragmented, outdated and not accessible in an easy and standard-compliant way. OpenDRI aims at overcoming these challenges and at facilitating data sharing e.g. through a web-based geospatial data sharing platform. The OpenDRI team has provided a number of training workshops on topics relating to data sharing and interoperability (e.g. on metadata, OGC web services, GeoNode and OSM, etc.). A permanent geospatial working group has been established under the OpenDRI consisting of the key organisations maintaining geospatial data in the Seychelles. One of the aims of the working group is to facilitate and improve data sharing. To support data sharing from the technical side the OpenDRI team has implement a geospatial data sharing platform based on GeoNode. The platform is temporary available under and will finally be hosted by the disaster risk management authority of the Seychelles: DRDM. A training on GeoNode was provided to the working group members by the OpenDRI team.

Using Data

Available data is not always used to the extent it could be. There are two reasons for that: 1) Is is not known what data is available. 2.) There is little knowledge only of what could be achieved having the right data and technology available. The first reason the OpenDRI team has addressed by promoting data sharing and facilitating it through mentioned data sharing platform. With regard to the second reason the OpenDRI team has provided a number of training workshops showing how geospatial data and technology can be used for disaster risk management and impact assessment. Workshops that were held with the key organisations covered the topics as follows:

  •     – GIS basics
  •     – GIS for natural disaster management
  •     – GIS for disease outbreak management
  •     – InaSAFE
  •     – Geodatabases in a nutshell
  •     – Power of topology

All tools that were used in the training workshops are Open Source Software.

Customised training was provided to those organisations that have not been working much with GIS so far, and ways were discussed how geospatial data and technology can support them in their every-day workflows.