Automated weather stations to help Ethiopian herders

ankole cows 2111168 640Increasing climate variability has brought many herders in Ethiopia’s lowlands to the edge of survival.(Image source: 4665562/Pixabay)Automated weather stations (AWS) are being installed in some of Ethiopia’s lowlands to help herders and other climate-vulnerable residents respond better to recurring shocks related to climate change

The project Market Approaches to Resilience (MAR) is led by the NGO Farm Africa in three Ethiopian regions — Afar, Southern Nationals People's Region State and Somali regions — in response to increasing climate variability facing lowlands communities.

Negusu Akilu, MAR’s project head, told SciDev.Net in an interview that the project, which is part of the UK aid-funded Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters programme, aims to help over 178,000 people in the region.

“The automated weather stations are providing herders with reliable climate information, so that they can weigh up risks and make preventative decisions, like when to destock cattle or scale up water conservation activities,” said Akilu.

Increasing climate variability has brought many herders in Ethiopia’s lowlands to the edge of survival. As temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, these problems could potentially worsen, Akilu said.

A total of 25 solar-powered AWSs have been installed since 2015 when the project started, according to Farm Africa. It also involves the private sector to offer micro-insurance that covers climate risks.

The NGO expects the institutions implementing it to continue offering these services even beyond the 2018 expiry date of the project, said Jonathan Garrard, its head of programme support and design.

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