Youth develop Uganda’s first customised weather information application

Jun 16, 2017

The winning teams: Agrigap, Thinkline 256, Tracktor - posing with Ms. Rosa Malango the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator together with officials from the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) and Ministry of Water and Environment at the end of the Climate Action/Weather hackathon in Kampala, Uganda. (Photo Credit: UNDP Uganda2017).

Kampala - A team of young innovators have won Uganda’s first weather hackathon competition. The young innovators under their group Agrigap, won the weather hackathon after three days of rigorous work to develop an application that would ease dissemination and utilisation of weather information in Uganda.

The weather hackathon dubbed “Innovations Challenge/Hackathon” was aimed at developing innovative solutions for converting the available weather and climate data into useful weather and climate information and/or solutions that will facilitate efficient dissemination of weather and climate information to the end users.

ThinkLine 256 and Tracktor groups took second and third place winning two million and one million shillings respectively. Agrigap, the winner, got three million shillings for their innovative idea.

The idea for the hackathon was derived when Uganda together with eleven other countries participated in in the Early Warning Innovations Challenge in March 2016 in Livingstone, Zambia

All the 18 youth who participated in the hackathon, including from another two groups the Earth Consult and Afrosoft Limited, were awarded certificates of participation.

“The Zambia challenge helped us to realise that our weather products needed to be upgraded to match the increasing demand for timely and accurate weather information. This information is required to plan for agricultural production as well as aviation service among other things,” Ms. Rosa Malango, the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator said

It’s from this experience that UNDP in partnership with the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) was inspired to work with young innovators to identify contemporary and flexible solutions to the weather information sharing challenge in Uganda.

“This is about having an effective early warning systems,” Mr. Nerbert Wobusobozi, the Commissioner, Directorate of Water resources in Ministry of Water and Environment. He commended the young innovators and called on them to improve their applications to provide more detailed information such as flood alerts in case of heavy rainfall.

Adding to this, Ms. Rosa Malango called on the young innovators to ensure that their apps would be simple to use across the generation gaps, including information that is easily translatable to local languages making it easy for everyone to understand.

“This is important because we need to invest in making sure that quality and accurate weather information is able to reach the public wherever they are and in time,” Ms. Malango said.

The Climate Innovations Challenge/weather hackathon is part of the UNDP Programme on Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems (SCIEWS) for Climate Resilient Development and Adaptation to Climate Change. The programme has been supporting the Ministry of Water and Environment as well as the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) to set critical weather infrastructure including:

  • Twenty five (25) Automatic Weather Stations, with rehabilitation of 40 weather stations across the country;
  • Sixteen (16) Automatic Water Level Stations, with rehabilitation of 28 hydrological stations across the country;
  • An Automatic Message Switching System;
  • 35 barometers which are used to measure atmospheric pressure and over 50 thermometers for measuring temperature.

These instruments have enabled UNMA to improve its weather and climate monitoring and forecasting capability.  As such, UNMA is now linked to the regional weather and climate information hub for East Africa, located in Kenya’s Meteorological Department. In addition, UNMA has become International Standard Organisation (ISO) certified by the World Meteorological Organisation due to the improved quality of their weather information products.