Saturday, December 21, 2013

Embed your google earth map in your website

The Inside Travel team asked me whether it is possible to show the destination with picture and tourist offer on a map in our webpage. I had no clue about who to do this, but my intuition said, it should be possible, and indeed it is and it is quite simple : you just need to do the following steps :

  1. In google earth, you can create you own layers, named kml files (native google earth geo-data format not to be confused with a famous airline name). In my particular case i added placemarks for the different destinations. You can even add pictures that are on the internet, and description (
  2. save the kml file to the computer
  3. load the kml file to a server (such as google drive or google sites) 
  4. use the google reach out gadget found here 
  5. indicate the link to the kml server file, and choose the setting
  6. get the code and embed it into your website (with a html widget for wikispaces or blogpost)
Find here the google support concerning embedding a google earth project. 

Interesting in this procedure is that all the data need to be on the internet. Crucial is to find a stable location and not use links that depend on others (for example using a picture on Wikipedia) which could be removed.
One option is to put all the documents on google solution, namely using picasa for the picture and google drive for the klm file. But I just discovered another elegant solution is to use a google site (find google explanation here). Google sites allow to have webpages made in a very simple manner and has a feature called "file cabinet". A file cabinet is like an FTP server that is hosted by google and can easily be linked to any website or can be used in the Google gadget above. The advantage of the file cabinet is that all the documents needed to embed your map (pictures, text, kml) are stored in one location only.

Pretty cool, what google allows you to do with maps. This could be a smart way to present agricultural research results in a spatially explicit way and is definitely a feature you will find back on the new Inside Travel website. Until then, try it out yourself, it is less difficult than what you might think!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Swiss development cooperation in the Horn of Africa : a move towards pastoral areas

On the 5th of December 2013, the second Swiss Development cooperation day took place at the Hilton in Addis Ababa. The objective of the day is to bring together all people related to Switzerland and to some development cooperation in Ethiopia. By chance, I was in Addis and could join this event, and see the evolution since the last development day.

After a quick introduction round, in which I could present Inside Travel, we got some presentations about BurnaNest project (creating a new town near Tana Lake), about civil society (which I could unfortunately not attend) and one on the evolution of the Swiss involvement in the Horn of Africa, by Manuel Flury, the representative of SDC in Addis. 

From the last one, we could learn that the Swiss strategy has changed. Whereas in the past the Ethiopian Highlands and land and water management was the focus, also thanks to the Land and Water resource center, there is today a clear willingness derived from the Swiss development policy to address the challenges of the drier areas of the Horn. 

The “whole government approach” of the Swiss development strategy for the Horn of Africa foresees involvement in 4 sectors, namely i. food security and rural development ii. health sector iii. good governance, state and peace building, conflict transformation iv. migration.

For the first sector, food security and rural development, three goals have been set : 1. Increased adaptive capacities of dry land communities to cope with drought and other incidents that trigger food insecurity (including food assistance as a coping mechanism in case of acute and chronic food insecurity) 2. Good practices of natural resources management (NRM), including water, are increasingly integrated to local, national and regional policies and institutions. 3. Improved need-based services for livestock production, dry land agricultural and local value chains, with focus on vulnerable persons, including women.

As the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss Development cooperation have relatively little experiences in these areas, they will work with a whole range of partners. In this perspective, a strategic partnership with IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) is in the process of being established (a memorandum of understanding is about to be signed). IGAD is composed of all the countries of the Greater Horn of Africa, is supported by several big donors and has the role of addressing divergent political interests among its members. Though its today still weak implementation capacities, IGAD is expected to increase its importance in the region also thanks to its close collaboration with the African Union.  

Research has always been an important component of Swiss involvement in the Horn of Africa. Is there scope for livestock and value chain research? What could the role of ILRI be? 

If you want to brainstorm these questions with Manuel, feel free to contact me.

find the official communication about the meeting here