Progress GIS- MIS

Comments and feedback on map designs December 2013

Project report 2013

Under Construction.

GIS- MIS unit.



Report Contents: ( December 2013)

Report from workshop presenting developed map formats and the main report contains the key poings as listed below:

Desktop GIS Development Report:

Feedback from map users

For the complete report click on pdf icon:



Project GIS Report for Plans, Achievements, Constraints and Short/Long Term Future Plans for the GIS/MIS Facility to become sustainable and Operative. ( July 2013)


Purpose of document:

Progress report to take in picture project top management and technical stakeholders and organize better for the following activities. The report is according to GIS-MIS Advisor activities (at least 50% in NORPLAN).
Personnel involved in this document:

1. Project GIS - Rationale

The NORPLAN Afghanistan project is working in the field of hydrogeological survey in Faryab province in the north of Afghanistan. A geographical information system and data management system was recognized as a requirement for the project to organize project activities and to manage and disseminate survey information. Using GIS is a very good way of communication and GIS is distinguished as a good tool for analysis and contact between technical personnel for resource management activities. GIS can be used as one of the best options for technical activities in groups and team work environments.

The NORPLAN role in Faryab province is focusing on field data collection, data management, water quality tests as data organization part, and data analyses and result dissemination to stakeholders. GIS and data management systems directly support project activities in regard of visibility and information of views for future decision making activities. GIS helps the project to have coordination and contact with key organizations and ministries working in water management and research areas.

Initial work on project GIS was started in early 2012 by project International GIS experts. This was the period of planning project activities (planning phase). A general structure for the project GIS was established. Base layers combining different sources including environmental, geology, hydrogeology, shaded relief, satellite landsat mosaic, digital elevation model and hillshade data was combined and included. At that stage, project data was not available. Project data records needed further analysis and quality assurance tests to be used in project GIS.


2. Progress

The NORPLAN had moved from planning phase to implementation phase in February 2013. At that time, a bridging workshop with active participation of project team including national and international staff beside colleagues from partner organizations was held. During that workshop the GIS status and planned activities were presented. Target for project GIS was preparing data management system, developing a desktop solution to project GIS and making data and GIS online.

2.1 Desktop GIS

Project data as the main source to build front layers in GIS needed to be organized. Reports, analyses and representation of data and figures needed to be based on project data. A quality assurance test was required to make the project data legal for using in GIS. This activity was started during planning phase by the project international senior hydrogeologist, Mr David Banks. The structure of the quality assured data was further analyzed and a database (geodatabase) was developed to store this data. The project quality assured data copied to the database and kept dynamic to the project GIS; every time new data (update or delete) occur, the GIS automatically shows the changes.

Desktop GIS for the project, which was already started with base layers during planning phase, was developed. The GIS is linked with the project database and data layers are build up on data from the database. This relationship between layers and data is dynamic and work as an ad hoc system. The system is capable to produce maps up on need / request. A draft layout was used for the production maps. Recently, a more standardized layout was developed and for further map products it will be used. A paper atlas will be designed to include technical maps of Faryab.

The desktop GIS was designed to be used as an outline for the project online GIS. The final product of the desktop GIS will be map atlas for Faryab province. The maps will be on regional, provincial and district levels. Map atlas may include, location, hydrogeology, geology, groundwater sources maps as well as some other features maps. This desktop GIS can further be implemented for other provinces as well.

2.1.1. Deliverable of map products

Paper and PDF Map atlas of Faryab province is one of the planned activities of NORPLAN. Project desktop GIS is developed and ready to produce maps. What is required to have final map products for Faryab is the type of maps from technical points of view. Further discussions are needed to decide what type of maps should we have in paper atlas. These discussions can be based on samples from other countries in similar activities.

Unfortunately, some samples were available from Uganda but not shared with the GIS team in Kabul. To have deliverable on paper / PDF maps, the project GIS team may need either existing sample or decision by project technical resources in hydrogeology.

In case of sharing existed maps with specific symbols and color schemes used, we can deliver maps of Faryab within a month.

2.2 Online GIS

Project online geographical information system is another major activity that needs to be made functional during project life. The online GIS was planned to implement up on completion of project desktop GIS. The purpose behind this was to have data formats and background and foreground layers ready and their formats finalized to be used in online GIS of the project. Work on online system has been started in May 2013 and still not finished.

May 24 to 26 a three day workshop session in NORPLAN Emirates, Abu Dhabi office was conducted. The purpose of this workshop was starting work on project online GIS. Workshop participants were Mr. Tor Gunnar (from Norwey), Mr. Runar Bergheim (NORPLAN, Abu Dhabi office), Abrar and Zarinkhail (NORPLAN, Kabul office). During the workshop, project data management system and current data was presented. Project desktop GIS and layers presented and discussed. Comments and observations of experts considered to be added to the structure of database and desktop GIS to become ready for using in online GIS.

The team discussed and prepared a general layout of the system (how to look and what options and layers to be included). This was also shared with project team including senior hydrogeologist who were not present in the workshop. Finally, an approach on design and layout of the online GIS prepared and Web-GIS expert, Mr. Bergheim started initial design of the system. Using open source software for the online GIS of the project found as a good option and system development started by using free open source software. Besides, the very first draft of the system including required software installed to a computer from Kabul office which is using by Zarinkhail, GIS-MIS Adviser.

Currently, Mr. Bergheim accordingly with project International GIS Expert, Mr. Gunnar, is working on development of the online GIS. Required data for the online system made available during May workshop and a list of technical requirements from the point of hydrogeology was provided by Mr. David Banks to be used as reference. A demo of the online GIS is now available and put on a server located in Norway. To make this system sustainable for the future a server computer will be located in MRRD very soon and host name will be added under the web site.


3. Software

GIS in Afghanistan government is mostly used as desktop versions. ESRI technology is using widely in Afghanistan for desktop geographical information systems. For the first approach of the project which was developing a desktop GIS, ESRI products were selected as a better option. Using ESRI software enable the project to find local expertise and make the project team to develop a sustainable desktop GIS for the future. Besides, data sources for Afghanistan can be found for these software.

ESRI ArcGIS with Spatial Analyst extension recognized as the required software for designing of the project GIS. A one user concurrent-use license was purchased by the project. For online GIS, there were different options. The project could go using ESRI software for server or use free and open source software with almost covering project requirements. The first option was very costly and keeping the system updated for the future was difficult, even impossible (it costs about 12,000 USD annual to keep the software updated). Therefore, the second option recognized as the better option. Legal, free and open source software package is downloaded and set upped for making the online GIS functional.

The ESRI software for the desktop GIS is working well and for the future sustainability of GIS related activities, this is a good option. According to plan, ArcGIS desktop was purchased. License for one extension of this software which is Spatial Analyst was also purchased. We may need one another license for using Geostatistical Analyses too. During our training course 4.10 GIS to Hydrogeology, using this extension looked to be required for the future. However, still we need to discuss and think about this. Purchase of the Geostatistical Analyst license will be clarified after GIS technical discussions with Mr. Andreas in late August.


4. Equipment

A unit to manage GIS and MIS activities of RuWatSIP was established in RuWatSIP, MRRD. NORPLAN as donor to the Government of Afghanistan, took responsibility to support this unit in regard of preparing equipments and materials and to make the unit functional. Four people are working in the MIS-GIS Unit of RuWatSIP. Also the NORPLAN GIS-MIS Adviser is partly working in that unit and act as manager and focal person for Government activities and coordination with other stakeholders.

The MIS-GIS unit is fully equipped by the NORPLAN. Major equipments such as electronic machines including 2 PCs (one laptop and one desktop), A3 printer, paper shredder, digital screen, and office furniture were prepared by the project. A server computer and its peripherals are quoted and soon will be purchased and set upped in ICT Server Room, MRRD. This server will be used for the project GIS as well as the RuWatSIP MIS and GIS which is mainly dealing with surface water, hygiene and sanitation data over the country.


5. Training and capacity building

NORPLAN has a wide support functionality to MRRD on capacity building of staff and technical people. Technical trainings cover GIS and data management topics in RuWatSIP and stakeholder organizations including Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), Ministry of Mines (MOM) and DACAAR. Central GIS & MIS unit of MRRD is also considered to participate in capacity building trainings conducted by NORPLAN.

A series of capacity building trainings in the field of GIS and data management is planned. By the time being, the series include 11 trainings; their list and calendar is available online in the project website ( The list and training calendar are updating and the updated copy is sharing on the site. Training list updates based on needs and observations from experiences gained from courses that are already completed. Below list shows the updated status of planned trainings:

4.1 Introduction to ArcGIS software
4.2 ArcGIS databases (geodatabases)
4.3 Spatial analyst (ArcGIS)
4.4 RGIS viewer - administration (RuWatSIP GIS)
4.5 RGIS viewer - how to use
4.6 RGIS design
4.7 Data management 2
4.8 Data capturing
4.9 Cartopraphy
4.10 Application of GIS to Hydrogeology
4.11 Data management 1 (Excel and Access)

Up to date, one course from the above list is completed and the second is in progress.

Course number 10 (Application of GIS to Hydrogeolgy) from the series of GIS and data management courses was conducted from 23 to 25 June. The reason for offering this course at that specific time was to use available resources of the project. International trainings expert, Mr. Andreas de Jong was in Kabul and he has good experience and practical knowledge of using GIS in Hydrogeology field. The training was just planned and with a good result completed during the expected time and relevant topics were covered. A detailed report on course completion as well as details on course evaluation, observations and recommendations was prepared and uploaded to the project website.

Course number 1 titled "Introduction to ArcGIS Software" is now in progress. A local GIS trainer is hired for short term to conduct some of the courses which are already planned. The ArcGIS introductory course is planned for 3 days and finishes at July the 8th. Experiences and observations from previous courses are used to perform this course in a better manner. Course report including the result of evaluation forms by trainees will be shared up on completion of course.

According to the first plan, course 4.1 was scheduled in May 2013 and course 4.2 in July, the first week. When coming to practice, course 4.1 delayed for almost 1.5 months and conducted in the first week of July (instead of course 4.2). Therefore, we need to move course 4.2 to a later time and better be combined before course 4.3 in August. Besides, course 4.10, a newly added one, was conducted in June. Details on this course was explained earlier.

Therefore on trainings side, we are almost with the plan and it is hoped after Eid and Ramadan all the GIS related trainings will continue smoothly with the plan.


5.1 Training focus on MIS-GIS unit

GIS and data management trainings are planned to keep the MIS-GIS unit staffs in a special focus and to build their capacity for keeping the unit sustainable and operative for the future. There are 4 people currently working in this unit of RuWatSIP: one MIS developer, one MIS-GIS senior assistant and two people working with data management and monitoring activities. The first two are well familiar with recent technologies in the field of MIS and GIS. And the other two are dealing with data monitoring and data reporting in governmental old formats.

The staffs of the MIS-GIS unit who are familiar with recent technologies are a good source to work on their capacity building and let them keep our system's functional in long term. Therefore, we will keep them participated in all the trainings and will use their assistance during some of the trainings. During the last 2 trainings, 4.10 and 4.1, both of them were present. In the last training which was introduction to ArcGIS software, we used one of them as co-trainer and his role was good.

The other two staffs who are not much familiar with recent technologies will be trained in some courses, e.g. data management 1 & 2, RGIS related trainings and etc. We had one of them in this recent course 4.1 which was an introductory course to ArcGIS, but we do not expect satisfactory result for him.


6. Coordination

NORPLAN is functional in RuWatSIP, MRRD. RuWatSIP is the leading program in water sector in Afghanistan. Line ministries and partner organizations plan and implement water related activities in rural areas by coordination with RuWatSIP. NORPLAN is an active projects in the field of research on underground water resources in Faryab province. Therefore, coordination with RuWatSIP and via RuWatSIP with other stakeholders who have projects in Faryab province is one of the key activities of NORPLAN.

The focus of NORPLAN is basically on hydrogeological data and underground water sources survey, analyses, and reports. RuWatSIP role is to organize and coordinate activities on both underground (ground) and surface water records in the whole country. Additionally, RuWatSIP works with hygiene and sanitation data and their related activities in rural area. Therefore, a unit to store, control, analyze, and disseminate sector data needed to establish in RuWatSIP. A GIS and MIS was also required to make this unit functional.

6.1 RuWatSIP MIS - GIS

NORPLAN has financially supported the RuWatSIP MIS-GIS Unit. Development of a GIS and MIS for this unit is basically funded by UNICEF. The system will be ready in a month time from now and it will cover surface water, hygiene, sanitation and financial and administrative attributes of assets. A limitation of the RuWatSIP general MIS and GIS was recognized by NORPLAN team leader, Mr. Abrar during requirements analysis period and that was the system limitation to one language (English).

The mini language shortcoming of the RuWatSIP MIS and GIS was resolved by coordination between NORPLAN and RuWatSIP. NORPLAN covers additional charges to make the system in 3 languages. Three interfaces will be in the system; one in English and two in local languages. This will help the system to be sustainable for the future and can be easily used by locals who could not communicate in English.


7. The way forward

Project GIS needs further development. Using experiences up to date from project activities and from sharing experience between GIS users as well as experience from trainings conducted up to date require new changes to be added to the existing GIS of the project. Desktop GIS and online GIS both need further development.

7.1 Desktop GIS

The project desktop GIS uses a layout drafted for this purpose to show maps. A new layout will be replaced for future map products. The new layout is shared with the NORPLAN technical team and will be used as standard layout for paper atlas.

Hydrogeological paper atlas needs some technical discussions from the point of hydrogeology features which to be included or excluded from the final map products. The discussion will take place in late August when Mr. Andreas is back to Kabul. Address to finalize features layout, maps for paper atlas will be produced and be made available in PDF copies.

The data layers have almost no metadata. It is important that all GIS layers have metadata which describes the data source, how the data has been processed and by who. Metadata and explanations will be added to the map layers used in desktop GIS.

The working files will be numbered in a logical manner. For instance, a map project may have several updates; each one will be named as different versions starting from version one. The Desktop ArGIS software license is 10.1 and soon will be upgraded to 10.2. To keep compatibility between files in different systems, the working project files will be kept and used in 10.0 version.

7.2 Online GIS

Two international experts, Mr. Tor Gunnar and Mr. Stein Runar, are currently working on developing the Online GIS for the project. The product draft memo is prepared and our team tries to improve it to final copy and make it available online. We set the server here in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) server room in MRRD to store the project online GIS.

7.3 GIS International conference

GIS is a new technology in Afghanistan. GIS is computer supported geographical information system. Using computer and computerized technology is rapidly growing up in the world. Afghanistan, as a member and part of the world community, needs to keep updated and adopt changes in using technology of computer and this is a plus. GIS use become started from maximum one digit years in Afghanistan. To keep updated and resourceful in a field, close coordination and link is required. The NORPLAN, as one of the members of GIS community in Afghanistan and by having national and international experts, wants to initiate an international conference on using GIS in Afghanistan.

An international conference on GIS is planned to be conducted in 2014. This conference will take place in MRRD, Kabul, Afghanistan. National and international experts will be invited to present their articles and share their experience locally in Afghanistan and worldwide. The conference will be funded by NORPLAN and findings and materials will be shared to all stakeholders vie the project and MRRD websites.

Halfyearly GIS progress report prepared by Shuaib Zarinkhail, 7th July 2013