With all the advanced technology of GIS mapping which is an effective pathway of environmental management, in terms of preserving and protecting eco-systems which has resulted in costs savings and greater efficiency, better decision making, improved story-telling about changes in the natural environment, better geographic record and accounting of changes. The voluntary participation of citizens’ in wetlands management can also contribute to the above benefits. We see examples of good practice in citizen participation in different parts of the world. All across western civilization, in Europe and the USA, we see case studies and examples of the citizen participation in the day to day monitoring of the natural environment, including wetlands. A good example of citizen participation is shown within Nebraska, USA. In Nebraska, they have developed GPS-enabled mobile devices that citizens can simply download and monitor wetlands, by submitting reports and providing evidence through photographs and imagery as well as making observations. Their contribution provides good on the ground surveillance of wetlands. Why do we not take the same approach in Africa? According to the UNCTAD, the digital economy is evolving in Africa but at different speeds. While in Nigeria, 32 million people started to use the Internet between 2012 and 2015, in other African countries (including the Central African Republic, Eritrea, and South Sudan), mobile cellular services still reach less than a third of the population. However, the potential is there, citizen participation is vital to complement GPS monitoring, engage citizens and enhance their education and understanding of preserving the natural environment.
On the ground monitoring and surveillance of natural resources is usually considered costly. However, the participation of citizens who have a right to participate in the monitoring and surveillance of their natural environment should not be overlooked in Africa.