Why am I holding a rain gauge?

Vermicomposting Action Research
January 15, 2019
Evidence-informed Policymaking Seminar in South Africa
January 15, 2019
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Why am I holding a rain gauge?

By Dr. Herbert Kasiita

“Am a veterinary doctor and a certified one at that” the thought loudly ran through my mind while I held a Rain gauge in Sembabule District headquarters meteorological department on my first visit as an innovations fellow for climate change. This was an ordinary non-recording rain gauge among others that record and automatically send rainfall data to the meteorological center. The department to measure the amount of rainfall, recorded and submitted to the Uganda National Meteorological Authority, UNMA to help in analysis in order to come up with a ten-day prediction of rainfall patterns in the intervention districts of Sembabule, Nakasongola and Soroti. Information on rainfall and water availability, markets and nutrition was being given to farmers in order to adapt to changing climatic conditions using Smart phones, radio and Television programs. I was so fascinated by the smart phones the Climate Change Adaptation and ICT, CHAI projects had given the local government workers (Environment, Production and Social work departments) to collect raw data, feed it into a mobile application and relay to UNMA for analysis. After being admitted to the African Climate Change Leadership Fellowship through a competitive process, I was lucky to meet the funders of the CHAI project who allowed me an opportunity to be attached to the project which had run from 2012. This was partnership between FHI 360, Uganda Chartered HealthNet, the Ministry of Water and Environment, Makerere University and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). CHAI developed a climate information system comprising a set of information and communications technology (ICT) tools for the collection, analysis and dissemination of adaptation information. The system includes mobile phone-based tools for gathering weekly crop and livestock market information from 46 local market outlets, daily weather data from 22 sub-county weather stations, and information dissemination mechanisms via interactive radio, mobile phones and community meetings with local authorities. The system links households to community support organizations that provide resources to apply acquired information into action. More than 120,000 farmers now receive adaptation information, including seasonal weather forecasts and agricultural advisories localized to sub-county level; weekly livestock and crop market information to help farmers decide what, when, where and how much to sell; guidance on low-cost rainwater harvesting techniques; information on drought and flood coping mechanisms; and termite control measures. Rigorous studies involving 640 households, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and field observations showed that the timely delivery of localized climate information through the project reduced crop loss and damage by 40 percent to 65 percent. However, at the time of my visit, the project was transitioning to a newer phase on which I would work as a Veterinary practitioner to add livestock based data on disease, vectors, range management, prices of livestock and livestock market dynamics. This data would help the existing and new farmers to adapt more to climate change since the project area lies in the cattle corridor where the major economic activity is livestock keeping. The Africa Climate Leadership (AfriCLP) is a capacity building program that offers experiential learning, education, and research and training opportunities to African professionals, researchers and graduate students to develop their capabilities for advancing and applying knowledge for climate change adaptation in Africa. AfriCLP  is jointly administered by the  University of Nairobi and the Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA) – University of Dar es Salaam, with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada for three years. On my second visit I will give more depth on how the reality of climate change is being embraced through innovation and lives are being transformed for better in the cattle corridor by CHAI and other innovations.

My interaction with rain gauges in Sembabule
Examining the CHAI smart phone

Looking at the rainfall records from many decades

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