CEGIS: A centre of excellence on environment and geographic affairs

-Engr. Md. Waji Ullah

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The Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), a Public Trust under the Ministry of Water Resources, is a centre of excellence in research, development, service provision, etc. in a variety of fields, such as water resources, delta and river morphology, environment, ecology, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, power and climate change, to name a few. CEGIS uses state-of-the-art technologies like geo-informatics, space technology, information technology, modelling and social tools and techniques. It works both independently and in close collaboration with the government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) of the country as well as regional and international agencies.

Following the disastrous floods of 1987 and 1988, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) undertook a comprehensive review of the country’s flood policy and flood protection management system, and developed a Flood Action Plan (FAP). In 1995, the project ‘Environmental and Geographic Information System Support Project for Water Sector Planning (EGIS)’ was launched by merging the two components FAP-16 and FAP-19, which came to an end in 2002. With a view to developing the national capacity of the country and continuing the successful efforts CEGIS had achieved by then, the GoB under the Trusts Act of 1882 established CEGIS as a Public Trust on 16 May 2002. Since then, CEGIS has been working as a self-financed not-for-profit government-owned organization to fulfil its mission under the Ministry of Water Resources of the GoB.

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CEGIS is an interdisciplinary matrix organization comprising highly qualified multi-disciplinary researchers, scientists and technical professionals who bring a wide range of experience and skills. CEGIS has 20 experts/advisors, 93 core professionals, 150 project-based professionals & staff. The services of CEGIS relate to advice and consultancy, research & development and training to assist in enhancing the quality of planning, implementation and monitoring of projects/programmes using space technology in both public and private sectors. CEGIS’ fields of services include: Water Resources Management; River and Coastal Morphology; River Management; Agriculture, Fishe-ries and Livestock; Disaster Management and Climate Change; Natural Resources Management and Ecosystem; Socio-economic and Livelihood; Health, Water Supply and Sanitation; Geographic Information System; Remote Sensing; Database and Information Technology; Mathematical Mode-lling; Crop Modelling; Spatial Planning; Research, Development and Training; Policy Analysis and Formulation; Quality Assurance and Management; and Event Management.

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Over the years, CEGIS has implemented and is in the process of implementing more than 400 projects in more than 14 sectors. CEGIS has provided support in the preparation of national and regional level policies, strategies and plans such as National Water Management Plan, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009, Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan and Strategies, Master Plan for Haor Area, Agricultural Master Plan for the Southern Delta and the currently ongoing the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100.

CEGIS is involved in integrated environmental analysis such as conducting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) Studies, Development of Environmental Guidelines; RAP; Analytical Framework for Planning for IWRM; Spatial Analysis using GIS and RS for flood monitoring, drought assessment and monitoring, river plan-form changes, river erosion and accretion prediction, flood damage assessment, development of Digital Elevation Model (DEM), land-use planning, urban planning; Database and IT such as National Water Resources Database (NWRD), Metadatabase, etc.; development of web based spatial database, MIS and Decision Support System (DSS) for planning, designing, implementation and monitoring of water, gas, clay mining and power  sector projects, etc.

CEGIS also developed number of training modules over the last few years and are being used for in various training courses, which includes, EIA reviewers training and EIA practitioner’s training.

Some of the landmark projects worth mentioning are: Tidal River Management under the Khulna-Jessore Drainage Rehabilitation Project (KJDRP); Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of Gorai River Restoration; Monitoring of the Re-excavation of Kapotaksha River Project; Water Management Improvement Projects (WMIP); Feasibility Study of Ganges Barrage; Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of BWDB Projects; Natural Resources Management in the Chittagong Hill Tracts Region; Management of the Ecosystem of the Sundarbans; Morphological Studies of the Padma River; Assessing the Rate of Subsidence of the Bengal Delta; SMS Gateway System for Monitoring Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) to Reduce Community Health Risk; Web-based GIS for Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Health Care Services; Assessment of Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation for Sustainable Rice Production; Impact of SLR on Coastal Communities and their Livelihoods; CC Adaptation, Biodiversity Conservation and Socio-Economic Development of the Sundarbans; Analysis of Internal Displacement due to the Impacts of Disasters and Climate Change; Digital Archiving of Maps for Dhaka City; EIA of Rashidpur and Kailashtilla Wells etc.

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CEGIS has developed models and tools for conducting studies on disaster such as Erosion Prediction Tool, Drought Assessment (DRAS) tool, CEGIS Storm Surge Model (CSSM), Community based Flood Early Warning System and Analytical Framework for IWRM and Climate Change.

Since its inception, CEGIS has worked with different ministries including Water Resources, Agriculture, Environment and Forestry, Power, Land and Planning. CEGIS has a strong network with around 38 different government agencies and 15 academic institutions. It also has experience of working with local consulting and private firms e.g. Asia Energy, Grameen Phone, Banglalink, KAFCO, Robi, Beximco, CEMEX and IDCOL. It is linked with 36 renowned international agencies from the Netherlands, UK, Canada, India, Nepal and other countries.