Lake Victoria Program

The W&M GIS Center at Lake Victoria is a partnership with NaFIRRI (http://www.firi.go.ug/). NaFIRRI is a semi-autonomous Public Agricultural Research Institute of Uganda managed by a committee of the Director, Dr. John Balirwa, the Ugandan Minister of Fisheries, and representatives of the scientific, business, and fishing communities. Founded in 1947, NaFIRRI is a leader in African fisheries management with an inherently interdisciplinary mission: “To generate the knowledge base, develop and disseminate fisheries technologies and information for increased but sustainable fish production, conservation of the fisheries genetic resources, water quality and fish habitat, and to develop and mange the research and required linkages with stakeholders." The GIS center on the NaFIRRI campus in Jinja, Uganda will combine the capabilities of GIS at the college of W&M and the research expertise of NaFIRRI to expand opportunities for W&M undergraduate and graduate research into fisheries and wider issues of land cover change. In return NaFIRRI staff will obtain access to GIS expertise, hardware, software and training to meet their mandate to conserve aquatic systems in this important region of Africa.

GIS is the key to achieving the above. In the words of Erin Spencer (’14), “GIS allows for the tracking of fast-paced environmental change. In such dynamic ecosystems, [GIS-based approaches] are imperative for developing a conservation plan.” GIS has become a foundational requirement for students interested in issues of environmental planning or natural resource management. With a robust geospatial education, students interested in these topics have the ability to conduct meaningful research as the data and analysis tools required to monitor change, test hypotheses, and offer solutions are embedded in a geospatial framework.