Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Working in water in Africa ? Join the competition!

By Prof. Nick van de Giesen (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands), guest writer

Building no less than 20,000 weather stations across Africa; one very 30 km. That is the aim of the ambitious Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) project, a joint initiative from Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) and Oregon State University. In an earlier blog post we reported on this project from Mauritius.

Presently, the African observation network is very limited. National governments and regional planners do not have the data to make proper decisions regarding investments in water resources infrastructure. With an increase in quantity and quality of climate stations, we can move forward towards the goal of obtaining accurate climate data. This data is essential for agriculture (e.g. harvest predictions), weather predictions and climate modelling. Furthermore, the stations would be placed at schools and integrated in the educational program.

TAHMO is an ambitious and inspiring project but it still is in the initial phase; TAHMO is an  extensive project with various aspects that need to be addressed before we can start building the  observation network on the African continent. Topics that need to be considered go beyond designing and building the weather stations network. Also legal issues around the measurements, maintenance  of the stations and expertise on how to integrate TAHMO in the education curricula are of high importance.
We are aware of the fact that for these issues to be addressed adequately, local experience is essential. Therefore, we are building a community around TAHMO, consisting of (African) individuals, universities, (scientific) institutes and other relevant organisations that are supportive of our project and are willing to think along with us on the various aspects of this grand project.

In order to take the first steps in building this community, the TAHMO Sensor Design Competition is being organised (deadline 1 March 2013, extension possible upon request) among African campuses, engineering societies, research centres and technology communities. The objective of this competition is to design a sensor that measures a weather or hydrological variable and is both inexpensive and robust, but also requires zero maintenance for two years. Among parties that have shown their interest in participation are the Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia), the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), the Kenya Polytechnic University College and the Ghana Institution of Engineers.

Of course, we would like to expand the TAHMO community as vastly as possible. We therefore would like to encourage everyone who is interested to join our community and participate in discussions on or More information on the TAHMO project and the competition can be found on Together we can make TAHMO work!

Initially this blog was meant as a place to report from development in rural areas around the world. I am therefore very happy to introduce the new label "guest writer" to my blog and proudly publish this blog post contributed by Nick. I hope this will motivate other to contribute to this blog too!

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