Building farmers’ resilience through ICT based weather information


May 26th, 2017

Bangladesh has made significant advancements in the field of disaster management. We are good at response, but there are areas of improvement for overall management—most importantly preparedness and early warning systems.

We generally consider a cyclone as a ‘disaster’ but consider flooding as a regular phenomenon, not a disaster. If we look at the policy documents, we will see that drought, salinity and even arsenic have been considered under the definition of disaster, but have focused less attention on these so far.

flooding in SiragonjWhen we compare the loss that occurs due to different disasters, flood is the highest while drought comes fourth. Again, if we analyse the loss and damage among different sectors, the agricultural sector is the most affected and farmers are the worst victims. Loss and damage from drought or flood could be minimized by providing agro-meteorological information to farmers well ahead.

Practical Action demonstrated this in Sirajgonj by providing agro-meteorological services to farmers, catering to their needs by tailoring the agricultural advice with voice messages with support from local organisations. The year round information flow prepares farmers for receiving the messages as a part of their regular practice and thus makes them more likely to respond to the advice immediately during a disaster.

Many organisations, including I/NGOs are setting examples of good and workable models which need to be mainstreamed by the government.

Agro-meteorological services could save farmers to a great extent but it remains a challenge to communicate with them using simple, easily understood language. Increasing ICT access and services to the majority of the population in Bangladesh needs to be utilized to its full potential. The government needs to support cost minimization for disseminating agricultural advice and early warning messages to reach the last mile.

One response to “Building farmers’ resilience through ICT based weather information”

  1. Rashed Chowdhury Says:

    This is a great initiative! However, I would like to think about enhancing “seasonal forecasting” scheme for this purpose. My ideas are as follows (see the links, and contact me if you need any further information). Thanks,

    At present, Bangladesh has a flood forecasting lead-time of only three days or so. Due to short lead-time and outdated dissemination network, these products are not often very useful for long-term planning purposes. Neither the national (i.e., government agencies) nor the individual (i.e., farmers) decision makers can really use these products for any kind of responses related to planning purposes. Unfortunately, these deterministic forecasts have further limitations due to non-linearity in the climate system and the growth of numerical forecasting model errors over time. Therefore, it is difficult to increase the lead-time of these forecasts after 6-days and almost impossible to increase the lead-time after 10-14 days. While these limitations are effective in many developed countries, it is therefore unlikely that, the lead-time of the present short-term deterministic forecasts in Bangladesh can see any dramatic change in the foreseeable future.

    However, for any type of response planning (i.e., relief operation at the government level and crop plantation at the individual level), there is a demand for long-range (month to season) flood forecasts. The seasonal forecast is a type of long-range forecast. Seasonal forecasting is the outcome of a shift from deterministic predictions (e.g., 0.2 mm of rain will fall tomorrow) to probabilistic forecasting schemes. Here the emphasis is on forecasting the probability that a particular climate variable will be significantly above or below a mean state over a time-averaged period (usually ranging from a month to a season) (e.g., there is a 20% probability that the seasonal flooding in the northern part of Bangladesh will be higher than normal). Primary observations revealed that there is teleconnections between the strength of El Nino/La Nina and the climate variability (magnitude of flooding, for example) in Bangladesh.

    Also see:
    http://archive.thedailystar.net/2006/07/21/d607211801121.htm
    http://www.thedailystar.net/news-detail-149688

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