This week, the Walker Institute is supporting a two-day event on the RAINWATCH initiative in Kampala, Uganda with the aim of providing the space for deep and explorative dialogue on technical practices, as well as sharing good practice. Additionally, there will be discussions to identify challenges, opportunities, and priorities for climate information services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The event is organised by the RAINWATCH Alliance Team with support from Binghamton University, the Walker Institute, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the WISER programme. The event is hosted by ACMAD (African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development) and the Uganda National Meteorological Authority.
Specifically, the workshop will provide technical training on maximising the utility of historical data and season-to-date observations for delivering climate services through RAINWATCH. Information on the latest developments for RAINWATCH will also be discussed, and followed by a User Learning Exchange to identify research gaps for climate services and support the development of new sectoral products. Discussions in the User Learning Event will focus around two main questions: What are the weather and climate information priorities for Uganda, and Sub-Saharan African National Hydro-Meteorological Services; and what are the priorities for weather and climate information for user communities?
Professor Ros Cornforth, Director of the Walker Institute said: “The Walker Institute is delighted to be able to support RAINWATCH in this workshop, the main aim of which is to foster learning and create dialogue among forecasters, researchers, practitioners, and decision makers. We hope that by integrating the latest climate research for the effective up-scaling of climate information services in Africa we can work to overcome the threats posed by climate change. At the Walker Institute, we are playing an active role in facilitating this cross-learning through our interdisciplinary portfolio of work across sub-Saharan Africa.”
Professor Aondover Tarhule, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School at Binghamton University and co-creator of RAINWATCH said: “the vision of the RAINWATCH Alliance is that RAINWATCH should become the Africa-wide platform for climate information dissemination with periodic learning events that foster a continent-wide community of users. Invoking the memory of Professor Peter Lamb, an early sponsor and strong advocate of RAINWATCH, RAINWATCH is an African solution to an African problem, consistent with Pete Lambs, lifelong position.”
Co-created knowledge and recommendations emerging from the RAINWATCH Learning Event will be used to inform the future technical development of the platform. The recommendations around user engagement will be shared widely through participating organisations collective networks to inform future development of climate information and further learning.
Participants at the Uganda workshop include 15 RAINWATCH country coordinators from 10 countries, eight government agency representatives, four influential civil society organisations and the media. Dr. Festus Luboyera, Director General of the Uganda National Meteorological Authority, declared the workshop open on the 5th March and offered his organisation’s support for the RAINWATCH Alliance.
RAINWATCH is an internet based platform that provides season-to-date and historical information, principally rainfall and temperature, in near-real time from monitoring stations, and tracks the key seasonal characteristics, important for food production. It has been operating since 2009 and has grown to a dynamic collaborative alliance which includes 12 national hydro-meteorological services (Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Gambia, Guinee Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Malawi, and Burkina Faso), as well as members from NGOs, International Organisations, Government Agencies, Research Institutions and the private sector across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The overarching goal of the RAINWATCH Alliance is to encourage collaborative work on increasing the access to and the use of climate information services to enable decision making processes in a wide-range of sectors, for example agriculture, water and health.