We are delighted to announce that data from the newest member of the Rainwatch Alliance – Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe – has been integrated into the Rainwatch platform. The addition of Zimbabwean rainfall data brings the total number of countries featured on the Rainwatch platform to 16.
Rainwatch, is an open-source, web-based GIS platform that provides rainfall data to farmers and other stakeholders in near-real time and tracks the key seasonal characteristics important for food production, health service response and social protection systems. It has been operating since 2009 in West Africa but is now developed and sustained through a continent-wide Rainwatch Alliance; a partnership of National Hydro Meteorological Services (NHMS) networked together as part of an African solution to build an effective climate service partnership on one platform.
By working together with government agencies, NGOs and research institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa, the Rainwatch Alliance aims to build a climate resilient future for all. The Rainwatch Alliance aims to encourage collaborative work on increasing the access to, and the use of, climate information services. In turn, this can enable better, targeted decision-making processes across a wide range of sectors including agriculture, disaster risk reduction, integrated water resource management, energy and health.
"We are excited to be part of the Rainwatch Alliance initiative," said Becky Manzou, Director General of Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe, "as this will enable us to improve the access and use of the climate information that we collect for use by several sectors, especially agriculture. Given the increasing risks of meteorological hazards, we hope our involvement will better inform these sectors to increase resilience building and also improve decision making for the good of our people and the environment at large."
Walker Institute Director and Rainwatch Co-lead, Professor Rosalind Cornforth, welcomed the new addition to the Alliance: “I am personally delighted that Zimbabwe Met has joined the Rainwatch Alliance and extended this co-operative platform to southern Africa. The vision of the Rainwatch Alliance is that Rainwatch should become the Africa-wide platform for climate information dissemination, fostering a continent-wide community of users.” Invoking the memory of Professor Peter Lamb, an early sponsor and strong advocate of Rainwatch, Professor Cornforth said that Rainwatch is an African solution to an African problem, “consistent with Pete Lamb’s lifelong position.”
Dr Aondover Tarhule, Provost of Illinois State University and fellow Rainwatch Co-lead highlighted the importance of local involvement in the Rainwatch platform: “The need for Rainwatch has never been more critical or urgent than at the present time. Mounting evidence suggests clearly that it is going to take all stakeholders working together if humanity is to have a chance at mitigating and effectively managing the effects of climate change…The Rainwatch Alliance is truly unique. It represents a community of climate users that has now extended right across the African continent and yet is completely driven from within and from the ground up.”
Principle Rainwatch Co-ordinator, Kofi Asare, looked to the future of the platform: “The Rainwatch Alliance’s desire to help bring climate information and services to the doorstep of farmers, agricultural extension agents, policymakers, scientists, disaster managers, health professionals and other stakeholders within the African region continues to expand. Rainwatch is developing new products that will soon be added to the platform. The feedback received from users is considered prime and it is used to improve the information shared on the open-source, online Rainwatch platform.”
The Rainwatch platform is accessible at www.rainwatch-africa.org.