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Oluwatobi Oyinlola

Oluwatobi Oyinlola at the Hackaday finals

The past Summer, TAHMO ran a project under the umbrella of Hackaday. The project helped us to move forward on the lightning sensors and the more advanced usage of GPS signals. We made it to the semi-finals but unfortunately we did not make it to the finals. However, team-member Oluwatobi Oyinlola was able to travel to San Francisco to attend the finals. He writes: “It was a great privilege to represent TAHMO at the Hackaday Conference in San Francisco in November 2015. I met many like-minded people in the field of embedded systems, such as Chris Low, David Pruth and some other electronics hobbyists. I really appreciate the support of TAHMO for my participation. Unfortunately, we did not make it to the finals but is was a very worthwhile experience.”

Hacking is still very much at the heart of TAHMO and we hope we will be able to run another competition on the African continent the coming year.

P1000358For the TAHMO project funded by the first Call of the Food & Business Applied Research Fund (ARF) of NWO-WOTRO, Mr Alloysius Attah and Ms Ellen van Andel participated in a three-day-workshop on Food and Business Research in Uganda which took place from October 1 to 3.
At the workshop, several issues were discussed such as co-creation, stakeholder engagement and commercialization of knowledge. About 40 project representatives and 25 external stakeholders actively engaged by exchanging ideas and sharing lessons learned to enhance the uptake of research results derived from the projects.

More information:  three-day-workshop and TAHMO project in Ghana

Enhancing research impact for food security
NickvandeGiesen opens DGI

Nick van de Giesen opens DGI

Concrete solutions to problems in the developing world using science and technology – that’s the goal of TU Delft’s Global Initiative (DGI), which was officially launched on 24th November 2015. Nick van de Giesen, co-founder of TAHMO and chairman of the DGI had the honor to kick off the event.
The launch featured TU Delft scientists, students and entrepreneurs strolling down a catwalk, showcasing 22 projects already tackling global challenges e.g. a smart phone app that scans a missing limb, then guides the creation of a 3D-printed prosthetic; diapers for disabled children; solar powered water purification; a cheap, robust thermometer; gas stoves tailored to different global contexts. TAHMO also presented its innovative and robust weather station for sub Saharan Africa.

DGI kick offNickvandeGiesen opens DGI2
Then four international keynote speakers – Noha El-Ghobashy, founding president of Engineering 4 Change; Professor Mugendi K. M’Rithaa, industrial designer at South Africa’s Cape Peninsula University of Technology; IBM’s Dr Kala Fleming, a thought leader on water management; and Professor Lex Peters, founder of the Female Cancer Foundation – provided further inspiration, with a touch of practical advice, in their extraordinary ‘stories from the field.’ And to finish, the University’s Rector Magnificus, Professor Karel Luyben, was presented with the first copy of DGI’s new booklet:  “Science for the benefit of people. All people. Worldwide.”

More information can be found here: www.delftglobal.tudelft.nl

by Nick van de Giesen

EGU_2015The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has an educational outreach program for high school teachers, called Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT). Every year, workshops are organized during which teachers interact with geoscientists. As is stated at their website: “The main objective of the GIFT workshops is to spread first-hand scientific information to science teachers of primary and secondary schools, significantly shortening the time between discovery and textbook, and to provide the teachers with material that can be directly transported to the classroom.” Usually, these workshops are held at the General Assembly of the EGU in Vienna but this year there was a special workshop near Addis Ababa with 35 teachers from Ethiopia. During the 2012 EGU General Assembly, I presented TAHMO to European teachers at the GIFT workshop. This year, I did the same in Addis but now included the “build your own disdrometer” experiment. The teachers were very interested and there was a lively discussion on how we could bring further development in the classroom. Especially the question as to what extent local materials can be used for building weather stations was discussed intensely.

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Teachers soldering disdrometers

The disdrometer exercise was, as always, a big success. Basically, a piezo-electric element is glued under a hard surface, in our case the glass of a little picture frame. Then the two wires from a standard mono-audio plug are soldered to the metal and ceramic parts of the piezo. The plug can then be plugged into a little amplifier with speaker after which the sensor can be tested by ticking on it. People were very eager and did not need any help with soldering, even though no one had soldered before! In a very short time, ten disdros were put together and tested. Several teachers expressed interest in repeating the exercise at their schools. It should be very simple to put together a small package with which one can perform the experiment. Most items can normally be sourced locally, such as soldering iron and tin, superglue, a hard protective surface, and an audio plug. A cheap radio can be hacked to make the signal audible. All that is really needed are some instructions and piezoelectric elements.

esnc15Prof. Dr Nick van de Giesen, co-director of TAHMO, and Dr. Eugenio Realini won both as special prize winners in the University Challenge and as regional winners for the Netherlands in the 2015 European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC). Each year, the ESNC seeks services, products, and business innovations that use satellite navigation in everyday life. The prize pool in ESNC 2015 was valued at approximately 1 million Euros, which included cash awards, business incubation, business coaching, patent consulting, technical support, access to testing facilities, prototype development, publicity, marketing support, and much more. All of the winners were recognized on stage at a festive Awards Ceremony that took place on 20 October in line with the Satellite Masters Conference in Berlin, Germany.

The winning idea: GNSS (global navigation satellite system) monitoring of precipitable water vapour over East Africa using low-cost receivers.

African weather is poorly monitored, especially for forecast purposes. At the same time, African societies are vulnerable to extreme weather events. By far the most critical weather variable is rainfall. To make good predictions about rainfall, it is important to know how much water vapour the atmosphere contains. More water in the atmosphere means more rainfall. Traditionally, this amount of water is measured by weather balloons, but these are expensive and there are only few regular launches over Africa. GNSS signals travel slightly more slowly through moist air than through dry air. A GNSS receiver can measure the extra delay caused by moisture in the atmosphere, even though the differences are very small. Today, even low-cost GNSS receivers are so accurate that they can measure these delays. The plan is to add these low-cost GNSS receivers to the stations of the TAHMO (Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory) network around Lake Victoria. TAHMO is building a network of 20,000 robust and cost-efficient weather stations across Africa. By adding GNSS/Galileo receivers, it will be possible to greatly improve rainfall predictions.

For more information about the competition and TAHMO’s contribution, check out the ESNC website here.

fishermenTAHMO has won the Global Resilience Challenge to develop a meteorological early warning system in Uganda to acute climate-induced shocks. Over the next two years we will implement an early warning system in Uganda to give critical warnings to fishermen on Lake Victoria, where 5,000 people drown annually due to severe weather.

Climate change is impacting the frequency and severity of severe weather events with residual effects the lives and livelihoods of people in developing countries who lack the capabilities and infrastructure to cope with these climate-induced hazards. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) in the Horn of Africa region struggle to provide sufficient early warning and timely, accurate weather information in advance of disasters. Impactful adaptation measures to enhance resilience to these acute shocks must be undertaken.

Early Warning Systems (EWS) are a critical tool for saving lives and reducing economic losses from floods, droughts, storms, and other weather-related hazards. Five and ten-day forecasts have been shown to increase farmers’ resilience and increase incomes in the face of drought conditions. The implementation of EWS’s generate benefit-to-cost ratios between 4:1 and 36:1 in developing countries, but are often non-functional because of a lack of weather data, partitioned efforts by different agencies, and unsustainable long-term funding. TAHMO proposes to address the impacts of weather-related hazards on target populations in Uganda by establishing an early warning system (EWS) that is:

A complete end-to-end solution: Weather information will flow from our network of stations all the way down to millions of vulnerable fishermen and smallholder farmers in Uganda.

Scalable: Immediately after the launch, all 16 million+ mobile phone owners in Uganda will have on-demand access to weather information and all 8 million Airtel subscribers will have free access. As importantly, the partnership model we have with Airtel in Uganda is replicable in every other African country.

Sustainable: Our solution will continue to operate, independently of donor funding, for the foreseeable future.

Impactful: The partners in our consortium have a proven track record at delivering services that have measureable financial and social impact.
TAHMO develops the system together with Earth Networks, African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics (ACLE), Climate Change Adaptation Innovation (CHAI), and Human Networks International (HNI).

The Global Resilience Partnership, is convened by The Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, and Sida.

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The winning team

The winning team

In the week of 13-17 July, a 5 days’ business workshop on Water and ICT challenges for young professionals in Rwanda was facilitated by Delft University of Technology (through the VPdelta programme and Delft Global Initiative), VIA Water and IBM Research Africa. During the workshop, fourteen young professionals were challenged to work on business cases that address urgent problems in the field of water storage, warning for (extreme) weather, water quality, water availability or Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The participants were trained by a team of experts (one of them being TAHMO initiator Nick van de Giesen) on topics such as water management, use of technology, entrepreneurship, business case development, market mapping, prototyping and proposal writing. But above all participants were encouraged to work within those five days, in a pressure cooking session, on their own cases. By using this approach the participants were stimulated to understand, design and implement their (new) sustainable business case on Water and ICT in Rwanda. The first four days of the workshop took place at the Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Gashora.

Participants of Water and ICT Accelerator

Participants of Water and ICT Accelerator

On the final day, the participants pitched their business case in front of an expert jury at the Dutch Ambassador’s residence in Kigali. The winning team pitched a ‘Severe Weather Warning for Musanze City’ to provide timely and reliable predictions of lightning and floods through a Geoportal and App. They won a prize of 2,000 USD wherewith they are expected to develop their business ideas further into a full proposal for the VIA Water fund, a Dutch Programme which supports innovative water solutions in Africa.

The runner-up team ‘Indogobe Smart Water Ltd.’, proposed to provide water storage and delivery services in urban Rwanda by means of intelligent water tanks together with an ordering app. They were offered a prize of 1,000 USD or an entry ticket to the six weeks innovation challenge offered by VIA Water.

 

Fabrice Muvundja (left) and John Selker (right) in Rotterdam, March 2015

Fabrice Muvundja (left) and John Selker (right) in Rotterdam, March 2015

Last March, Fabrice Muvundja paid a brief visit to Rotterdam to meet up with TAHMO co-directors John Selker and Nick van de Giesen. Fabrice was finishing up his PhD research on “Hydrological variability and biogeochemistry of particulate organic matter in a large tropical rift lake, Lake Kivu (East Africa)”. Lake Kivu is a very interesting lake at the border of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The bottom of the lake contains high concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide. If the lake were to overturn, the lives of the two million people who live around Lake Kivu would be in danger.

About one thousand years ago, this was the last time this occurred. At present, the plans are to extract methane from the lake without disturbing its stratification. Monitoring is the main tool to ensure no such disaster will occur. Monitoring the weather is one part that is needed, which is why Fabrice contacted TAHMO. It was agreed to set up three stations as a pilot activity Eastern DRC. Three schools were selected. The first one is in the South at Fabrice’s own school, ISP Bukavu, where he teaches in the Department of Chemistry. The second one will be placed at a school on the island of Idjwi in the more central part of the lake. Finally, the third station will be placed at the Ecole du Cinquantenaire in Goma at the northern part of the lake. The Ecole du Cinquantenaire is a special school that was inaugurated only recently and educates students in the fields of Civil Aviation, Construction, Electronics, and Petro-Chemistry.

On Tuesday 14 July 2015, the three stations were handed over in Kigali, Rwanda. Sister Jeanne-Marie, the director of the Ecole du Cinquantenaire, had traveled especially for this occasion from Goma, as had Fabrice from Bukavu. The three stations will monitor the western part of Lake Kivu and thereby contribute to the management of this unique lake.

Opening of the Ecole du Cinquantenaire, with left Sister Jeanne-Marie

Opening of the Ecole du Cinquantenaire, with left Sister Jeanne-Marie