TAHMO

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TAHMO attended the 2nd RCMRD International Conference which was organized from the 15th to the 17th of August, 2018. Here, stakeholders from across Africa came together with ideas on how to fast-track applications for earth observations and geo-information technologies and discussed how to implement these into decision-making processes.

During the open-panel discussion, TAHMO shared its vision and experience on the importance of institutional collaboration.

The TAHMO Initiative regards training and education of both teachers and students of schools with a TAHMO station as a very crucial ingredient of the Initiative. This is done through the school2school program which is created to serve this important purpose of educating, training and support with teaching and learning materials.

Students and Geography teachers of St. Paul’s SHS, Denu in the Volta Region of Ghana had an interactive session to understand TAHMO’s school2school program. The students joined Mr. Kwame Anhwere – the TAHMO regional coordinator – to carry out maintenance work and understand all the ins and outs of the weather station. This attracted students from other departments which found the session quite interesting.

During the sessions, the main discussion was about how the environment supports life and the importance to take good care of it. It was about the activities and responsibilities that individuals and governments have to minimize their impact on the environment. The last part of the discussion centered on the various sensors on the station, how they work, the parameters being measured and how data could be accessed and visualized for lesson plans.

The students had the opportunity to see the real-time measurements when the station (logger) was connected to the computer as well as near real-time measurements online via the school2school.net platform. Some of them had the opportunity to check the data online.

The school expressed their appreciation and were happy to be among the selected schools in the country to host a TAHMO station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Written by Kwame Duah**

Turkana County is one of the counties in the former Rift valley Province of Kenya. This is the second largest County in Kenya and it borders Uganda to the west and South Sudan and Ethiopia to the North.
15th January 2018 marked the start of a long journey of weather data collection by installing the first TAHMO Automatic Weather Station in the County, the first station was installed in Talent High School. TAHMO has up to now installed three Automatic weather stations in the County, in Loima Boys High School, Talent High School, and Moi High School Kalokol.

On 5th July 2018, we received a ZL6 data Logger in Kenya. I decided to test the logger in areas with poor cellular network connectivity. My top priorities were Isiolo Meteorological offices where we have a TAHMO weather station and Loima boys High School which is one of the sites in Turkana County. The first test was carried out at Isiolo Meteorological offices on 14th August 2018. The test was successful and the logger had a good network reception.

The station at Loima Boys High School had problems uploading data due to weak cellular network. On 21st August 2018, I started a five-day journey to Turkana County, my aim was to bring the station at loima Boys High School online again, test the ZL6 Logger and update the ATMOS firmware for all the three stations in the county. I was very much committed to bringing the station at Loima online without moving it to a different location, I carried other local Sim-cards to the sites which I would use just in case the Vodafone Sim-Card failed. In my email conversation with Safaricom (network provider), they had suggested we move the station to Lorughum where they have a 3G booster. So if all came to worse and the station failed completely, we would move the station to Turkan Girls High School which is near Lorghum 21 km away from Loima Boys High School. This means we would treat the weather data completely differently with that at Loima since these sites are far from each other.

Lodwar is the main town in the county, most people would come back to this town to spend their nights here after carrying out field activities in the remote villages. Loima Boys High School is located about 70km west of Lodwar town, this meant a 70 km drive on a large extensive semi-arid land. The best service you can do to yourself here is to take a lot of water. Sometimes we could drive for three hours before reaching Loima because roads are covered by sand and the driver had to carefully choose the routes to follow otherwise the car could sink it’s tyres into the sand.

The tricky part was crossing River Turkwel, here you have to get out of the car to reduce the weight of the car so that it doesn’t sink into the sand. At some point, we could push the car from behind to accelerate it so as to reduce the chances of it sinking. The best thing about crossing River Turkwel was that you meet several people who are also struggling to cross the river, you exchange ideas and some would tell you their mission in the county and their experience with the local communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met a young boy who offers guidance to people who have issues crossing the river, he says, “if you want to successfully cross the river, you drive parallel to the flow of the river, in case you notice where the sand is well compressed and firm enough, tilt the tyres slowly by slowly till you reach the other end.” This trick was successful for the four times we crossed the river.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The time we spend crossing the river gave me some ideas on how to deal with the local community. I was well prepared with everything I needed to bring the station at Loima Boys High School online, but the experience at the river gave me a very different view of things, that how you deal with the community can help you find a solution quickly or make it completely impossible. So we decided to stop at Turkana girls (where we would bring the station to if it completely failed to broadcast at Loima) to do some tests. Here we meet the gateman, I explained to him that we intend to move the station here because at Loima the network is very weak, I also told him that the site at Loima is built on a higher ground within the school compound, and we really would wish to keep the station within Loima and not move it as far as Turkana girls. He listened to me carefully and he had this to say “If you really want to retain the station in Loima, you have to move it towards a lower ground within the compound, network in this region seems to be stable on the lower grounds than higher grounds.” I doubtingly agreed to this, so we drove to Loima, I removed the station from the middle pole and moved to the lower ground within the school compound, I carried out a communication test and it was successful.

I talked to the School principal and asked for permission to move the station to the lower ground about 100 meters from where it was as long it will not interfere with the School’s future infrastructural developments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He agreed and we moved the station, I placed the ZL6 Logger and the EM60G logger on one pole. I set the upload frequency for the ZL6 Logger to be four data uploads per hour and that for EM60G to be one data upload per hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am happy that the advice from the community members helped me bring the station online. I am also happy that I successfully completed a trip that involved making right decisions very quickly and staying on top of everything

I hope that the existence of the TAHMO weather station in Loima boys High School will be an eye-opener to the local community in Turkana County and a great contribution to the knowledge about climate change and a better understanding of the evolution of adaptations to semi-arid and other extreme conditions. This would give a chance for the Linking of traditional Beliefs on Climate Change Phenomena to Scientific Facts for Better Adaptation Strategies.

**written by Victor Omoit

Call for Application

Hackathon for Environmental Sensors (Hardware) and IoT for Climate Services
Date: 19-23 November 2018 @ KNUST Kumasi Business Incubator, Kumasi

Background

TWIGA is a 4-year project (2019 – 2023) under EU Horizon2020 aimed to transform weather water data into value-added information services. It is made up of a consortium of 18 partners – 8 from Africa and 10 from Europe.

At the moment the products and services being considered some of which have been tested by TWIGA partners are in the Agriculture, Water, Energy, Disaster Response and Management and Insurance sectors. For these products and services to be successful on the Africa market, often they need to be bundled and may require public-private partnerships (Bellagio-African-PPP-for-Climate-services 2017). For Agriculture, the following products are being considered: agriculture knowledge and information systems, crop monitoring (health and yield), site evaluation for crops, crop selection and calendar, weather forecasting, fertilizer advice, Pest and disease management, sowing and planting advise, water use and irrigation advice, soil moisture assessment and modeling, soil nutrients assessment, salinity assessment, flood risk assessment, flood early warning system, drought risk assessment, drought monitoring, Extreme weather risk assessment, Extreme weather early warning, disaster monitoring and impact assessment, agricultural (index) insurance, market access assessment and market information,  climate change modeling and monitoring, pasture and water bodies identification and monitoring, forest and bushfire warning and monitoring, agricultural control and compliance monitoring (Noort, 2018).

Objectives of the Hackathon

To foster involvement by young scientists and entrepreneurs, TWIGA will organize five hackathons; three on development of geo-services at Strathmore (Kenya), TU Delft (Netherlands) and SAWS (South Africa), and two on sensor development at KNUST (Ghana) and TU Delft (Netherlands).

Because the hackathon will be partly funded by TWIGA, there has to be a realistic outlook towards a service. Therefore the objective of the hackathon in Kumasi will be to develop a viable product (environmental sensor and/or service) in 5 days in line with the TWIGA products and services outlined above.

Method

The SPRINT concept, more or less, which brings people in five days from concept to tested minimal viable product, will be used.

Requirements and Application Procedure

The call is open to only teams from Ghana. Similar hackathons will be organized in other parts of Africa later. The teams could be formed by individual persons, students, start-ups, companies, NGOs or government organizations. Teams should have expertise in software and hardware development. All teams need to be physically present during the 5-day Hackathon in Kumasi.

All interested teams should send their application (2 –page concept note, and the resume or CV of all proposed team members) on the environmental sensor(s) and/or IoT for climate service they intend to develop to info@twiga-h2020.eu with the words [TWIGA Hackathon in Kumasi] in the subject line of the email. The application should be submitted by 23.00hrs CET on 12 October 2018.

Start-ups that provided letters of support for the TWIGA project proposal are highly encouraged to apply as well as teams with women.

Prizes

5 Teams of not more than 3 people per team will be invited if they meet all the set requirements. There are prizes of  €1500, €1000, and €500 for number one, two and three.. These three finalists will be supported to take their ideas from conceptualization to full prototype ready to be tested on the market within 2 years.

The intellectual property rights of the winning prototypes developed during the course of the 5 days Hackathon will be shared between the developers and the TWIGA project.

Evaluation Criteria

At least one team member should have a University degree in the field of Engineering, Computer Science, Physics or related field with at least one (1) year experience with hardware/software development.  A gender-balanced team will be an advantage. The main evaluation criteria will be the innovation and technology readiness level of the proposed product.

Logistics for the Hackathon

Accommodation (full board) will be provided if needed. Tickets for public transport to and from the venue will be reimbursed against receipts. Each team member will be required to present a national Identification card (e.g. Driving License, Passport, and Voters (ID) and National Health Insurance Card or other forms of health Insurance.

Program for the 5-Day Hackathon

Monday 19
Morning: Arrival/registration and an introduction of Teams (5 teams, 3 people (max) per team); Overview concepts
Afternoon: Introduction and exercise LOOM

Tuesday 20
Morning: LOOM for specific applications, walkthrough, bottlenecks
Afternoon: Remix, improve the concept, sketch.

Wednesday 21
Decide on final design, rumble, and storyboard

Thursday 22
Build prototype

Friday 23
Test & learn
Award ceremony
Wrap-up, goodbye teams

For further information send an email to info@tahmo.org. Teams will be invited to the hackathon only after their proposal has been accepted and at least one member of the team interviewed via teleconference.

Sponsors for the Hackathon:

European Community’s Horizon 2020 Programme (2014-2020) under grant agreement n° 776691, Delft Global Initiative @ the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, Oregon State University, USA and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.

In the framework of its activities in Burkina Faso, TAHMO was contacted by one of its Partner organizations a local NGO MARP which owned one of TAHMO’s Generation 2 station since 2015; for the installation of a generation 3 station with additional sensors at Gourcy in Northern Burkina. MARP is an NGO active in development areas such as food security and nutrition, disaster risk reduction and climate change which requires reliable climatic data and information. Dr. Mande Theophile the representative of TAHMO in Burkina has been in charge of both training MARP’s staff and installing the station. In June; he organized a training workshop for three staff of MARP which included two interns (GNOUMU Juliette and OULE Dapé Serge) and MARP’s technical director Julien OUEDRAOGO (in the picture below). In the past, the MARP’s NGO only collected rainfall data and this was done manually; in December 2015 the installation of the TAHMO Gen 2 automatic weather station at its headquarters in Ouagadougou offered them the opportunity to collect simultaneously several meteorological parameters at a higher frequency. However, the location of the station was about 150 km from MARP area of action (the northern region) so they requested for the new station. For Mr. Ouedraogo the data collected at the new location will correspond more to the local climatic conditions and will allow MARP to provide relevant information to their partners and stakeholders. The new location of the station (roof-top) was decided by MARP according to the physical constraints of the site (trees).

At the end of the installation, the technical director of MARP thanked Dr. MANDE for adding a station to the MARP network. He was excited to see the data flow from the station to his computer near-real time.

**Written by Théophile Mande

MARP staff trained : From left ( intern OULE DAPE SERGE, Mr OUEDRAOGO NIMBRATA JULIEN, intern GNOUMU Juliette)

Station installed on the roof-top.

 

TAHMO was invited to the annual conference of the Ghana Geographers’ Association. The association is the umbrella body for lecturers and tutors who teach Geography at the University and secondary school levels respectively in the country. The association’s conference provides a platform for them to take a retrospective look at the subject (content), teaching methods, build members capacities and discuss issues that relate to the growth of the association. The conference also provides members who have undertaken research the opportunity to share their work and more importantly, how the association can help with the national course.

This year was held at the University for Education, Winneba and were under the theme: ‘Geography- The missing link in Ghana’s Development Agenda?’ The conference was graced by the Vice President of Ghana – Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.

TAHMO was asked to make a presentation on our school2school initiative. The West Africa Regional TAHMO Representative Mr. Kwame Duah Anhwere shared with the participants the desire to help improve Climatology which is part of the Geography syllabus in Ghana and the rest of Africa by TAHMO. This has started by installing the TAHMO stations in schools across Africa and Ghana in particular. TAHMO has also developed teaching and learning materials to facilitate teaching in the schools. A dedicated website www.school2school.net has been provided by TAHMO where schools can access the data for their lessons.

Kwame at the conference reiterated the fact that the school2school platform offers the Geography teachers and their Association a crucial avenue to partner with TAHMO as they work together to get these teaching and learning materials into the Ghanaian Geography curriculum. Currently, TAHMO has 85 stations in Ghana and 78 out of this number are in schools.All host schools have been educated about the stations especially during the installation period. Though, TAHMO has the approval of GES to install in schools, partnership with the Geographers’ Association is vital since its members form part of the exam board that examines students on the subject matter.

As it turned out, the association members who do not have TAHMO stations requested for one for their schools. However they were informed that they could be connected to nearby TAHMO stations so the hosts become more of resource centres to serve the others.

We (TAHMO) look forward to a fruitful partnership with the association in the coming days.

**Written by Kwame Duah A.

Meteo Rwanda in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) challenged technocrats to design a climate early warning system. The challenge focused on using the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop a solution. And due to TAHMO’s experience in building early warning systems, we were invited to mentor the participants. Gilbert (TAHMO and SWC) and Dominique ( CEO SWC) participated.

In Uganda, TAHMO led the implementation of Global Resilient Project that developed a Meteorological Early Warning system for fishers and local population near Lake Victoria. An end-to-end solution was developed where weather information flows from the network of Automatic Weather Stations (AWSs) to big data analytics and all the way to millions of people via voice messages. TAHMO is also part of Tanzania Urban Resilience Program (TURP) to offer a solution in disaster preparedness and emergency management through early warning system. In this project, TAHMO installed AWSs and AWLs (Automatic Water Levels) in rivers and sites close to Dar Salaam. In Kenya, TAHMO is in a team building Integrated Real-Time Hydro-Meteorological Monitoring System in Nzoia River Basin. The goal is to have a functional flood early warning system.

Rwanda is in need of a similar early warning system. At the moment, information flow from Meteo Rwanda to people is not very effective. Meteo Rwanda generates predictions then passes it to the Ministry of Disaster Management (MIDMAR) who details the information then shares it to the public. This one-way flow of information is often slow and no way of holding any institutions accountable. The public wants a way of giving feedback to the institutions, to help them improve their services and better tailor the information.

But what does it take to design an early warning system? The UN international strategy for disaster reduction has identified risk knowledge, monitoring and warning service, dissemination and communication and response capacity as the key elements for an effective early warning system. So, when you start to think of developing a fully integrated early warning system, a number of questions come to mind. First is how data will be collected; which sensors do you use, will the data be reliable and does it meet the WMO standard? And how will streams of data from multiple sensors in multiple locations be handled? Then you will need to worry on how the data architecture will look like. How will you bulk datasets while continually maintaining the network running? You will then need to think about how data will be processed, information generated and disseminated to people. You will also want to ensure all the various components are properly coordinating and working together.

10 groups participated in the challenge: Binary Earth, ECODEV, Hugs for Bugs, Dream Team, FORTENA and FARMATE, STES, HUBTZ team, CLINFONOT, and EcODEV. All the groups showcased unique solutions within the data chain. On dissemination of information, solutions ranged from the use of a web app, mobile app, USSD, SMS, and voice to share data with all stakeholders. Some groups included advanced features to allow quick sharing of information and sending alert warnings to physical alarm device that warns people in proximity of disaster, while other groups included using Machine learning algorithms to predict the likelihood of a disaster occurring. Other groups showcased how weather parameter data could be uploaded using low-cost electronic sensors.

On the sideline of the event, TAHMO participated in knowledge sharing sessions with various government institutions among them RISA, MIDIMAR, Meteo Rwanda,
Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture and UNDP.

TAHMO is committed to establishing partnerships, sharing, and exchange of knowledge with institutions in the weather industry, with the goal of strengthening each other’s capacity.

 

 

 

 

 

**Written by Gilbert Mwangi Kamau

The past few months have seen TAHMO install over 100 stations in various parts of East Africa.
Kenya installed 40 new stations, Malawi installed 21, Tanzania installed 6, Rwanda 15 stations. These are additional stations to the existing ones in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. There is advanced progress to have stations installed in all corners of East Africa. In East Africa, TAHMO works closely with the National Meteorological Agencies to identify locations that have historically been underserved with real-time and accurate weather data.