I. Introduction

The Nairobi Convention Clearinghouse is a ‘data reference centre’ in the Western Indian Ocean region, providing accurate and relevant data and information for improved management and protection of the coastal and marine environment in the Western Indian Ocean region.

Data in the national clearinghouses aims to satisfy the needs of local communities and build the growing Western Indian Ocean information society. Consequently, the main customers and beneficiaries of the Clearinghouse are the Contracting Parties to the Nairobi Convention, through their local and central governments (policy makers, policy implementers, coastal and marine resource managers), environmental practioners, academia and researchers. Other major potential users include non-governmental organizers (NGOs) and community-based organizations, UN agencies and the donor community.

Data and information infrastructure occupies a core place guiding multi-stakeholder initiatives and inform decision making in support of sustainable development and equitable management of the coastal and marine resources. When well-coordinated, data and information creates inter-linkages among the stakeholders in addressing issues from various angles and in complementary and collaborative ways. This reduces fragmentation, duplication and double funding incidences against constrained and scarce development resources.

II. Background

In 1993, UNEP initiated the project entitled the “Eastern Africa Coastal and Marine Environment Resources Database and Atlas.” referred to as Eastern Africa Action Plan project Number 14 (or EAF/14).  The project facilitated the establishment of geospatial databases in the region through institutional capacity building and training, and development of operational Geographic Information System (GIS) coastal resource databases that were installed in designated government institutions in the Western Indian Ocean region. In 2006 the Nairobi Convention Secretariat developed a project entitled ‘Nairobi Convention Clearinghouse Mechanism’, a data and information sharing system to build on the activities and results of the EAF/14 project.

III. Objectives of the Clearinghouse

1. Development of human resource capacities and appropriate information infrastructure at national level

2. Development of an enabling environment for assessment through advocacy of standards

3. Access to relevant data and information on the coastal and marine environment.

IV. Services of the Clearinghouse

The main services of the Clearinghouse are acquisition of data and making it available over the internet, along with the mechanisms for search of data. To ease the search in the Clearinghouse, data and information has been categorized into six broad emerging trends. These are:

  • Biophysical environment
  • Human Environment
  • Economic activities
  • Policy and Governance
  • Planning and management
  • Cost-benefits analysis

V.Clearinghouse capabilities

The main capabilities of the Nairobi Convention Clearinghouse Mechanism will be the continued acquisition of data and making it available online. Other capabilities include:

a) Data dashboard: a quick snapshot of selected indicators to show the state of the coast in the WIO region

b) Search: enable/allow users to locate specific data and maps using a comprehensive search criterion categorized according to coastal and marine thematic areas, countries and type of resource.

c) Mapping services: capability of viewing all the spatial data in the Clearinghouse without the need for specialized software. The map viewer will allow users to select different layers based on a specific coastal and marine thematic area and overlay it on a single basemap. The visualization of the maps will be through Web Map Service (WMS) or other Application Programme Interface (API) able to provide users with a simple web interface when requesting for a map.

d) Data catalogue: reference list of products available (data, documents, maps, map services, graphs and imagery)

The Nairobi Convention Clearing House Mechanism will be linked to the national nodes in each of the participating countries in order to facilitate data sharing, in addition to its information dissemination and exchange functions.