Africa is the only continent where the number of flood victims has increased since 1990. Comprehensive flood protection through dikes is only possible in a very limited number of cases. Flood Early Warning Systems (FEWS) is seen as a very cost-efficient mitigation measure.
We have developed a set of very cost-efficient alternatives for the most costly elements, such as radar and stream gauges. By standardizing these elements, we can now rapidly build FEWS with minor investments. Keys are the cost-efficient innovative weather sensors and discharge measurement techniques, combined with models and satellite data.
In addition to the urban FEWS, we will produce large-scale flood forecast maps at the basin level. There is a great need among emergency relief agencies, like the International Red Cross/Crescent, to respond rapidly. Large-scale flood information will help reservoir managers to anticipate better and to become part of the solution instead of the problem.
FEWS are typically a public good, and in most countries, only government agencies are allowed to give off warnings. We work closely with the meteorological agencies in the region with TEMBO Africa member KMD (Kenya Meteorological Department) taking the lead both in FEWS development and scaling up to other countries through sister organizations. It is expected that the scaling up of our solution can be achieved through donor investments and that the relatively minor operational costs can be carried by national and local governments.
Hydropower development in Africa is undergoing a surge, with parallel investments in windmills and solar plants. The uneven production of solar power can be buffered by extra or reduced water releases. Although the technology for this exists, it is not yet being applied in Africa due to a lack of appropriate information and monitoring systems. One step further would be "pumped storage" in which excess solar power collected during the day is used to pump water into a reservoir from where it can be released in times of shortage at night.
Reservoirs also provide household and irrigation water and can play a role in flood attenuation. The Reservoir Management service will provide reliable estimates of river inflows. The large areas draining into the reservoirs make short-term hydrological inflow forecasts based on upstream flow measurements and hydraulic routing robust, as the system will react relatively slowly to changes in inputs. Such optimizations are technically far from trivial but consortium partner TUD has been at the forefront of developing robust optimization algorithms for the Water-Energy-Food nexus for a long time.
The service is being piloted on the Black Volta (Ghana) and the Lunsemfwa (Zambia) rivers. The developed systems, which are modular in structure, will readily scale to other countries and river basins. This clear economic value can also be harvested as the business case is clear to the customer. This secures the long-term financial viability of this service and the underlying observation networks.
Agriculture is the single largest employment sector in Africa. Food growing capacity has to double the coming generation to feed the world`s increasing urban population. According to the FAO, smallholder farmers, who run the bulk of Africa`s farms, face many hurdles when it comes to accessing improved seeds and agro-chemicals needed to boost yields.
The introduction of such cultivars can be accel¬erated when at least the investment in the seed is covered by micro-insurance.In TEMBO Africa, thanks to partner GAIP, we will offer not just insured seed but also information about the upcoming start of the rainy season and (in-kind) credit, together with follow-up advice throughout the growing season, and marketing support. This allows for a low-risk introduction of new cultivars that greatly improve farm income. Whether there is sufficient rainfall for germination will be determined by the rainfall and soil moisture maps produced in the technical clusters. Soil moisture maps can be made in greater detail than rainfall maps, which is relevant for generally small farms (1ha).
Their access to cash is limited and much of their consumption comes from the farm. Without cash, farmers cannot purchase inputs such as improved seeds or fertilizer. Without these inputs, it is difficult to produce yields that exceed household consumption needs. This is why microfinance is often a successful tool to allow farmers access to better inputs. It has been recognized, however, that a relatively complete package is needed, which supplies farmers with information on when to sow and fertilize, market developments, and some form of insurance.
TEMBO Africa will start with developing germination insurance that covers the vagaries of the onset of the rainy season. There are indications that the onset of the rainy season has become less reliable and that traditional indicators are no longer trustworthy, at least in West Africa. By studying the atmospheric patterns, it is possible to determine with good accu¬racy if the season really has started or if observed rain is spurious. There are improved cultivars of maize and small grain crops that have better drought and disease resistance, shorter growing periods, higher potential yields, etc, but they have to be purchased.
This project has received funding from the European Horizon Europe Programme (2021-2027) under grant agreement n° 101086209 (TEMBO Africa).
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