Makerere to improve weather forecasts
Publish Date: Jan 28, 2014
Makerere to improve weather forecasts
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By John Agaba

Makerere University is partnering with the department of meteorology to design and deploy an additional 30 weather stations in the country, a move that will improve accuracy in weather projections in the country and region.

This comes after the university won a grant worth around $3m (about sh7.4b) to improve weather information management in East Africa, through the use of ICTs.

The Norwegian funded project is part of the 12 projects the university scooped after competing in the capacity building in higher education and research for development (NORHED) scheme, intended at promoting sustainable, economic, social and environmental development in low and middle income countries.

Dr. Julianne Sansa-Otim, the overall project coordinator, said they are partnering with the department of metrology to design and deploy these weather stations.

She said the design of the projects, expected to commence in June this year after their PhD students have reported back to the university, will be done by the students, but under the supervision of the university professors and researchers from the Bergen University of Norway.

She said the actual deployment of the weather stations will be around 2016 to 2017.

“We have done the cost pricing. Each station is going to cost about $2000 (about sh4.9m),” said Sansa-Otim, “Because it is our students who will design and deploy them.”

She said a lot of data was necessary to accurately predict weather. And the move of deploying an additional 30 weather stations in the country would go some way in improving the accuracy of weather forecasts in Uganda and East Africa.

Khalid Muwembe, the Uganda department of metrology public relations, said they have a total of about 100 weather stations under the department which are fully operational.

He said 12 of these were synoptic stations hooked to the global weather data exchange system and another 18 which are agro-metrological stations located mainly at NARO centres for agriculture.

The department also has 18 hydro-metrological stations for predicting mainly rainfall and water levels in the soil. It also has about 60 stations for predicting rainfall.

Muwembe said conventional weather stations were much expensive compared to the latest ‘movable’ stations.

Sansa-Otim said they will also partner with the metrological department to build a modern weather dissemination system that will disseminate weather forecasts timely to the population.

“Farmers need to know when to plant,” she said. “Giving them this information early will help them know when to plant.”

She also said that accurate weather predictions forecast early could help in avoiding catastrophic occurrences like the mudslides that have plagued the Bududa region in Eastern Uganda lately.

“We need to accurately predict weather,” she said. “Accurate prediction of weather is important for ensuring sustainability of our economy and population.”

During the inception of 12 projects at the Makerere University School Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering recently, Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa, the projects Principal Investigator, said the university was also partnering with the University of Juba to train a total of five PhD and 12 Masters students for the South Sudan university, under another project.

The ambassador of Norway to Uganda, Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether, challenged the researchers to do research that will impact local economic development, social transformation and environmental stability, and not to indulge in research for academics sake.

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