Walker has been increasing accessibility to usable climate information through co-development and support of the RAINWATCH platform. RAINWATCH provides usable weather and climate information to monitor weather enabling this to be used for decision making. It is run on a voluntary basis by the national meteorological services of fifteen member countries in Africa, forming the RAINWATCH ALLIANCE, and activity co-ordinated through the Walker Institute. It publishes a range of historic and current rainfall and temperature data from weather stations across its 16 member countries which members can access and directly use for monitoring and reporting.
Access to the information on the RAINWATCH platform directly informs early warning systems, which are used to prompt officials to act sooner when faced with the possibility of extreme weather events such as drought or flooding. Both drought and flooding can result in loss of livelihood and lives, and early warning systems are used to help to mitigate against some of the risks.
RAINWATCH products provided to the Office of the President of Niger in 2011 were used to assess the year’s monsoon and enabled the Government of Niger to issue early warnings to the its people. Consequently, the government was able to seek early help from the international community to tackle the 2011 famine, in stark contrast to other suffering Sahel countries.