[IRTalk] Africa’s 20,000 weather station plan - Sarah Wild

Ina Smith Ina at assaf.org.za
Mon Mar 12 23:49:31 SAST 2018


Farmers across Africa need weather data<https://www.scidev.net/global/enterprise/data/> and climate projections to put food on people’s plates. But often the data does not exist or is inaccessible. The same goes for scientists trying to model how the climate is changing<http://www.saeon.ac.za/enewsletter/archives/2007/april-2007/africa-under-represented-and-under-researched-yet-vital-for-climate-change-studies>, and how diseases spread<https://www.nature.com/articles/471440a>, for the planet’s second-largest continent.

Only 10 out of Africa’s 54 countries offer adequate meteorological services, the World Bank estimates<http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/11/10/modernizing-meteorological-services-to-build-climate-resilience-across-africa>, with fewer than 300 of its weather stations<http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2017/09/12/improving-weather-forecasts-can-reduce-losses-to-development-in-africa> meeting the World Meteorological Organisation’s observation standards.

The Bank estimates it would take US$1 billion to modernise key meteorological infrastructure.

An investment of that scale is prohibitive in countries where funds for basic services are often missing. But there may be a way around it: the Trans-African HydroMeteorological Observatory (TAHMO)<http://tahmo.org/about-tahmo-2/> hopes to expand the continent’s weather-watching capacity for a fraction of the cost.

The not-for-profit organisation has an ambitious plan to deploy weather stations at every 30km. This would translate into 20,000 individual stations supplying weather data to information-thirsty scientists, companies, and governments. It estimates it can do this for US$50 million, with an additional US$12 million a year for maintenance.
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