Launching a Community of Practice to Cultivate Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Development

This week, the QED team supporting USAID’s Uganda Learning Activity (ULA) launched a new mechanism designed to encourage collaboration among key stakeholders and enhance the use of geospatial analysis in development programs in the country.

Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) Specialist Ruth Ankunda presents at the official launch of USAID’s Uganda Learning Activity (ULA) Geographic Information System (GIS) Community of Practice.

Geospatial analysis is increasingly important to the field of global development, with major stakeholders in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) industry playing an important role in progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of Agenda 2030.

Many development professionals recognize the importance of evidence-based decision-making — that is, the value of using robust data in the process of planning, implementing, and optimizing development programs and activities. However, the ever-evolving nature of technology and the complexity of development challenges require constant skill-building, knowledge-sharing, and broader discussion among a wide group of stakeholders — including GIS practitioners but also expanding to other individuals and institutions involved in delivering bilateral aid and multilateral programs. Communities of Practice (CoPs) can play an important role in this information sharing process, by providing a forum for practitioners to exchange ideas, techniques, lessons learned and other resources that improve the delivery of USAID’s programs.

Uganda’s GIS CoP was a key recommendation of a series of engagements with the USAID Mission and implementing partners, where currently dozens of USAID-supported GIS specialists and MEL (Monitoring Evaluation and Learning) teams work tirelessly to inform effective programming, but have limited formal mechanisms to share their experiences with each other. To ensure geographic data reaches its full potential to inform effective USAID programs, the GIS CoP will meet periodically for presentations and workshops, and use tools such as Slack and WhatsApp to keep CoP members engaged between meetings.

Note: This post originally appeared in QED’s Proving What Works publication, which contains the full list of ULA GIS CoP resources. Updated files, links, and other resources can be accessed via the ULA GIS CoP Google Drive Folder.