DFMS aims to increase access to cutting-edge forecasting and hydrological models, detailed Earth observation analysis, and in-situ climate data in Uganda. To achieve this, a consortium of UK companies is building a web-based service which will provide access to both live and historic data, localized down to parish level.
In May, local farming groups, commercial interests, and local government representatives had the opportunity to have a sneak peek at the platform. The DFMS team travelled to Karamoja to demonstrate how the platform works and gain insight into how users might interact with it.
RHEA Group’s GIS developer Corina Tudorache, project support Elma Jenkins, and Country representative Matthias Magunda along with consortium members Regina Lally from Databasix, Joseph Egabu from AgriTechTalk and Jimmy Okori from Mercy Corps, visited four districts in Karamoja.
“We were representing a 20+ strong project team who have been working together for the last year building DFMS, so it was important that we gave the right impression,” said Jenkins.
The team were welcomed into each parish by the local representatives and found that there is a high demand for information, not only for weather forecasting but also for improving local agri-tech business and bolstering access to insurance. On the national level DFMS can be useful to improving the response rate to drought and flood disaster if DFMS is taken up more at the government level, something that RHEA Group has been working on behind the scenes.
On their return to the UK, the consortium agreed upon actions. These included putting together a training pack for end users which will incorporate local farming knowledge; adding a dashboard to the DFMS site for easy access to the right data and how to best visualize the seasonal weather forecasts.
A movement to improve Earth Observation data dissemination in Africa
There is a lot of interest currently to improve access to weather and climate data in Africa, from international organisations such as the UN calling for more open data, to regional African groups such as the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum looking to improve the dissemination of information.
Efforts by the government and local NGOs to pacify the Karamoja area have paid off and now the area is peaceful and opening up to tourism and increased trade. Moreover, many local groups can be empowered with better access to localized data.
The DFMS project is part of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), a 5-year £152 million programme designed to partner UK space expertise with governments and organisations in emerging and developing economies around the world. RHEA Group is leading a consortium integrated by UK companies including Environment Systems, Pixalytics, Databasix, AA International, AgriTechTalk International, HR Wallingford, UK Met Office, Mercy Corps, and Oxford Policy Management. The consortium will work together with international partners, including the Uganda Government Ministries and Kakira Sugar Company to ensure the success of the project.