5,000 people drown in Lake Victoria each year. A single text message could help save them.

Lake Victoria is a rich fishing ground in eastern , but it’s also stormy very stormy. In fact, lightning has been recorded 4 out of every 5 days of the year in Kampala, the Ugandan capital city situated along the lake’s northern edge.

And without reliable, accessible forecast, these cyclones can catch and other boaters off guard . About 5,000 people drown every year because of them.

Storms like this can be deadly. Image from Martin Richardson/ YouTube.

“There are people who need this information, but because of poverty they can’t afford it, ” Frank Annor, field director for the Trans-African HydroMeterological Observatory( TAHMO ), told New Scientist. “People’s lives could change for the very best if they are given some knowledge about the weather.”

TAHMO is an organization dedicated to improving weather forecasting in Africa. They’re already setting up a huge network of weather stations across the continent. Now they’ll help get that information to the people who need it.

A new text message program the organization is set to unveil in eastern Africa could help save lives.

The text messages will be part of a larger program called 3-2-1. The system is a research project led by TAHMO in collaboration with the Uganda National Meteorological Authority and partnered with a number of different organizations such as Human Network International( HNI ).

The text message platform was developed by HNI and Airtel, a cell phone provider. At first, only the 8-million Airtel subscribers will have access to the program, but TAHMO hopes to expand it to all carriers . If everything runs according to scheme, they can extend the service to people in nearby countries as well.

The undertaking goes after TAHMO was selected by the Global Resilience Project, which helped give them funding to start it.

Similar text message warning programs have been unveiled in the past, but TAHMO’s weather monitoring stations set it apart.

The stations will power an incredible information-gathering network.

The weather data wouldn’t simply be useful for fishermen. Private companies partnered with TAHMO could use it to offer services to other people as well. For example, though farmers aren’t usually in danger of drowning, a bad blizzard could damage harvests.

Read more: www.upworthy.com

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