Unique communications, meteorological and community partnership Information technology protects lives and livelihoods

A localized weather alert service will be launched in fishing villages on Lake Victoria as a result of a partnership between the Uganda Department of Meteorology (UDoM), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), MTN, Ericsson, National Lake Rescue Institute (NLRI) and the Kalangala Fishing community. The solution combines mobile technology, weather forecasting and local know-how.

Daily weather forecasts and well-timed warnings will be delivered in local languages. The information will enable fishermen and traders to make informed decisions on, for example, when and where to fish in Lake Victoria, thus helping to save lives and preserve livelihoods.

The service, still in its pilot phase, is being tested by over 1000 fishermen in the Kalangala District of Lake Victoria. MTN, Grameen Foundation AppLab Uganda and Ericsson are offering the service with UDoM, which will then be available for the entire Lake Victoria community in the next three months.

MTN Uganda, in partnership Uganda Department of Meteorology will, upon completion of the pilot, deliver the mobile service free of charge to MTN customers.

The pilot involves training community representatives in basic understanding of weather forecasts and how to respond to various alerts. Equipped with mobile phones, the community representatives then pass on their knowledge to fishermen and traders to sign up to the Mobile Weather Alert service.

Thus far, the value of the Mobile Weather Alert forecast service is being confirmed. In a mobile-phone based survey, conducted by Grameen Foundation AppLab Uganda 96% of the 200 respondents said it has improved the safety of their lives.

Lake Victoria, being the world's second-largest freshwater lake, provides a livelihood, directly and indirectly, to over 3.5 million people. The lake supports Africa's largest inland fishery and produces over 800,000 tons of fish annually, currently worth about USD 600,000,0001, and reported estimates indicate that as many as 5,000 members of the fishing community die in boating accidents in the lake each year because they are unprepared for bad weather conditions.

1. LVFO (Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation) http://www.lvfo.org/