Global Humanitarian Forum and WMO Announce Initiative to Revolutionize Africa’s Weather Monitoring Network

© WMO18 June 2009: The Global Humanitarian Forum and its President, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, together with Ericsson, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), mobile telecommunications company Zain, and the Earth Institute at Columbia University have announced an initiative, dubbed “Weather Info for All,” which will seek to improve Africa's weather monitoring network in the face of the growing impact of climate change.

Approximately 70% of Africans, or close to 700 million people, rely on farming for their livelihood, and over 95% of Africa's agriculture is rain fed. Changing weather patterns due to climate change could render obsolete traditional knowledge relating to agriculture, creating a great need for meteorological information.

The Global Humanitarian Forum initiated this project in response to Africa's severe gap in weather information. The members of the initiative will seek to deploy up to 5,000 new automatic weather observation stations across Africa, intending to provide a massive increase in crucial information to predict and manage climate shocks. Through its Mobile Innovation Center in Africa, Ericsson will also develop mobile applications to help communicate weather information developed by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) via mobile phones. Mobile operators will maintain the automatic weather stations and assist in the transmission of the data to NMHSs.

The initial deployment, already begun in Zain networks, focuses on the area around Lake Victoria in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The first 19 automatic weather stations installed will double the weather monitoring capacity of the Lake region. [WMO Press Release]