5 January 2016

Uganda: 85 New Weather Stations to Be Installed

Parliament — A total of 85 weather stations will be installed in Uganda over the next two years under a $1m (about Shs3.3b) project by the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) in an effort to tackle climate-driven environmental shocks and chronic stresses.

The aim is to warn farmers, fishermen and others about weather emergencies, said Mr Zach Dunn, the East Africa field director for TAHMO.

The stations to be installed mostly around Lake Victoria region, will transmit weather alerts to cell phones of more than 16 million residents providing accurate whether predictions based on good data, said Mr Dunn.

The project will also utilise model outputs in expansion of a network to other countries in the Lake Victoria basin, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda, where pilot operations have already been established, said a statement from TAHMO.

The project will also provide a complete end-to-end solution with weather information flowing from our network of stations all the way down to millions of vulnerable agriculturalists in Uganda, said Zach. "It is scalable and easily transferrable to communities across Africa."

"Many Africans are very skeptical about what meteorologists say. The weather forecast is the biggest joke ever," said Mr David Ongare of National Environment Authority, Kenya.

This data will help us understand what weather data means for tomorrow and the trends, added Mr Ongare.

However, Mr Andrew Kiggundu, the director Biotechnology Research Centre, National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO, said climate around Lake Victoria is much easier to predict.

"The data needs much more density, why don't we just crowd source it from our mobile phones, humidity can be the constant variable," he said.

Installing the weather stations is under the Global Resilience Challenge project, the first one approved from 500 applications from the multi-stage design competition launched last year to address the most difficult resilience challenges in the world.

"This award is truly transformative in advancing Uganda, and the entire African Continent to having a self-sustaining meteorological network," said John Selker, TAHMO co-director and Oregon State University Professor. Seven stations are already operating in Uganda.

"This will facilitate greater crop productivity, provide critical data for emergency response, and provide basic information required for economic advancement."

"In order to achieve our 2030 Global Goals, we must build resilient societies that can mitigate the impacts of climate change, and other inevitable challenges that threaten to erode development gains," said Thomas Staal, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of USAID.

Some of the stations will rely on solar power, use a GSM cell-phone to call in 5 minute readings every hour, reporting rainfall, solar radiation, vapour pressure, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, GPS location, soil moisture and depth to ground water, according to a TAHMO station specification monitor. Six of the stations will be high-powered using electricity and with high-powered lightning sensors measuring lightning location, intensity and severe storms, each within a range of 1,000 kms.


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