Thomson Reuters Foundation: “Sitting under a low tree to escape the blazing Kenyan sun, Kaltuma Milkalkona and two young men hunch intently over the older woman’s smartphone – but they are not transfixed by the latest sports scores or a trending internet meme.
The men instead are looking at a weather alert for their village in the country’s north, sent through an app that uses weather station data to help pastoralists prepare for drought.
The myAnga app on Milkalkona’s phone showed that Merille would continue facing dry weather and that “pasture conditions (were) expected to be very poor with no grass and browse availability.”
One of the young men said he would warn his older brother, who had taken the family’s livestock to another area where there was water and pasture, not to come home yet.
Milkalkona, 42, who lives and sells clothing in the neighbouring town of Laisamis, said she often shared data from her phone with others who did not have smartphones.
“When I get the weather alerts, I usually show the people who are close to me,” she said, as well as calling others in more distant villages.
Extreme and erratic weather linked to a warming climate can be devastating for Kenya’s pastoralists, with prolonged droughts making it difficult to find enough pasture for their animals.
But armed with up-to-date weather information and advice, herders can plan ahead to ensure their livestock make it through the region’s frequent dry spells, said Frankline Agolla, co-founder of Amfratech, a Nairobi-based social enterprise that developed the myAnga app.
The app – its name means “my weather” – goes further than the weather reports anyone can get from the meteorological department by interpreting them and making recommendations to herders on the best way to protect their livelihoods.
“If there is an imminent drought, we advise them to sell their livestock early to reduce their losses,” said Agolla in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation….
The app is part of Amfratech’s Climate Livestock and Markets (CLIMARK) project, which the company aims to roll out to more than 300,000 pastoralists in Kenya over the next five years, with funding and other help from partners including the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation and the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council.
The app sends out weekly weather information in English, Swahili and other languages used in northern Kenya, and users can see forecasts for areas as small as a single village, Agolla said….(More)”.