Hundreds of thousands of lives, and livelihoods, are threatened and lost every year in Africa due to the impacts of climate variability and severe weather conditions. Some, if not most, of such losses could be avoided if populations had access to reliable, timely localised weather information.
WMO, through its network of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services around the world, is working to improve this situation. With support from the Norwegian Government and the World Bank, the WMO Mobile Weather Alert project pilots the dissemination of weather and climate information directly to end-users in Uganda.
The WMO Mobile Weather Alert pilot projects launched in Uganda have two components, one targeting farmers, the other fishermen on Lake Victoria. Both emphasize the importance of continuous interactions between service providers and end-users. To be relevant, it is essential that service provider understand the real, on-the-ground, needs of end-users and are certain that those users understand the meteorological information that will be sent to them and can use it to make sound decisions.
The pilot projects take advantage of the widespread availability of mobile phones. Over the past decade Africa has experienced an incredible boom in mobile phone use. According to International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Africa has had the fastest expanding mobile telephone market – growing at twice the rate of the global market – over the last five years.
The new issue of WMO’s Bulletin examines the Mobile Weather Alert projects