23-Sep-2009 -- We are a research team from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission on a field trip in Kenya together with our Kenyan partner, the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development. One of our activities is to analyse land cover changes over time using Earth observing satellite images. Our team is focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. During this field mission we were comparing the information as derived from the satellite images with the current situation on the ground. The method is based on a systematic sampling approach where at each intersection of the 1 degree lines of latitude and longitude a sample will be located. The standard sample size is taken as 20*20 km around each intersection of the 1 degree lines of latitude and longitude. The Degree Confluence Project and its information is therefore very useful to this study.
Some of the sample sites we validated had already visited confluence points, some others had not been visited, but were even for us too difficult and/or time consuming to reach.
The confluence point 0N 38E was lying on our way from Embu towards the Meru National Park and I was excited to hunt my first confluence point ever (and even more on the Equator). The lower road to Meru National Park is not advisable to drive, especially not during wet season. It's a long and tough ride on dirt road. Just before reaching the entry gate, a broken bridge was challenging our Landcruiser and the driver, but we managed to pass.
To reach the confluence point itself was actually fairly easy, even if no 'roads' in this area are mapped. We were using our satellite images and, of course, the GPS to navigate. We could drive just a few meters from the confluence point, which was lying on a field. The whole area is heavily cultivated, with just a few shrubs and trees. September is still dry season, but this year East Africa and especially Kenya has been hit by a long and severe drought. So the land looked even more dry than usual. The farmer of the land on the confluence point came to see what we were doing, but even our Kenyan colleagues had difficulty to understand him, because he was speaking just his local language and no Swahili, but he was friendly.
After the mandatory photos and a happy confluence point hunter, we continued towards Meru National Park and then Mount Kenya region, before driving back to Nairobi.
Next field mission in the frame of this project will be a visit to Ethiopia in November 2009. Aim is to hunt again at least one unvisited confluence point.