On Fri, 30 Jun 1995, Dr. Menghestab Haile Wrote:
Dear Afrik-IT members,
In recent years many African countries have experienced severe droughts and
famine. Reliable forecasts are needed to help concerned decision-making
bodies: agricultural planners advising on seasonal, agricultural stategy,
future food and marketing needs, future grazing areas for herds etc., and
also external agencies assesing food and fodder supplies. Nowdays a number
of meteorological departments (such as ECMWF, UKMO, NCAR) issue globals
forecasts using GCMs. The forecasts are available to everybody with the
right technology, but need local experts for local interpretation.
While it is important to provide information on drought to governments and
donororganizations, it is vital that the farmers themselves be informed of
what is happening.
Meteorological information must me dissiminated to the farming communities
in somehow. Some African countries have weather forecasts on TV, but how
many people who are directly affected by the weather (such as farmers)
posses TV sets.
I ask IT experts to think on how meteorlogical and environmental
information can be dissiminated to the poorest.
Hi Menghestab, I forwarded the above a colleague of mine Rene Gomez of the
FAO, here is his contribution.
Clement: here is a quick reaction to the very important subject brought up
by Mr Menghestab Haile.
Unfortunately, meteorological services very often take a "take it or leave
it" approach, using their usual cryptic talk with "squall lines" and
"troughs" and "scattered showers" occurring "locally".
Not only is the wording obscure, but the message itself, even if understood,
is of little practical help. I remember a statement by a director of an
African meteorological service in one of the meetings of the World
Meteorological Organization Commission for Basic Systems (CBS). He said
"unfortunately, we are having problems with our farmers: they are uneducated
and do not understand the forecasts". Needless to say, I virtually erupted.
There is one country in Africa where real efforts are being made to get the
information across to farmers: Mali. The director (Kaliba Konare) has a
genuine interest in the application of the knowledge and data in his service
to the farming world. The Malian experience shows that results can be
achieved even with mostly illiterate farmers at the subsistence level. It
takes years of collaboration between the meteorological service and
agricultural extension to develop the methodology: the language, the words to
use, when to transmit, the type of advice farmers, etc.
WMO and CTA organized an excellent meeting on the subject in Bamako, "La
radio rurale et la diffusion des informations agrometeorologiques", Bamako,
18-22 May 1992. I guess copies of the proceedings could be ordered from WMO.
The meeting brought together all those concerned: the weathermen,
agricultural extension, and the media. The proceedings are certainly worth
looking at for all those really interested in getting useable weather across
R. Gommes ([log in to unmask])
Agrometeorology Group, FAO, Rome