TWIGA fosters a careful balance between technology push by academia and companies and technology pull by governments and other end users. We distinguish five clusters of users, each with their own needs:
1. Agricultural producers, input providers, and commodity buyers
2. Insurance providers
3. Energy producers
4. Drinking water companies
5. Disaster and natural hazard managers
Agricultural producers are the first to profit from TWIGA’s outputs as weather predictions are essential to sowing, irrigation scheduling, and harvesting and improve with enhanced in situ observations. As mentioned earlier, rainfall predictions in Africa are very poor, even at a daily level. This is partly due to the convective nature of most rainfall events, which is difficult to model, but especially due to a lack of measurements of air pressure, wind and precipitable water vapor. Actually, the convective nature demands a high-density observation infrastructure, which is what the TAHMO network aspires to with one station every 30 km. National meteorological services are TWIGA partners (SAWS, KMD) and supporters (16 national weather services in Africa through TAHMO) and will be the main source of knowledge with respect to the observational needs. Anecdotal evidence from Japan and the Netherlands suggests that detailed measurement of precipitable water vapor is especially important under convective conditions, which is why so much attention is paid to this aspect by TWIGA. We explicitly address input providers and commodity buyers as experience has shown that individual smallholders do not always have the ability to pay for weather services. Working through integrators, such as input providers, micro-finance schemes, cooperatives, telecom operators, and buyers often works better as large communities of farmers are served at one time. This reduces transaction costs on both sides and has the added advantage that it allows more easily to address farmers that may not be reached otherwise. The added value for the integrators is that it helps improve the productivity of the farmers or, in the case of telecom providers, binds them as customers.
Products provided: Weather maps; precipitable water vapor time series and maps; biomass maps.
Information provided: Yield predictions per crop; farm operation advice (sow, fertilize, harvest, etc.); weather predictions.
The insurance providers that we target in the first instance, are crop insurance companies. Crop insurance is generally seen as an essential part of the agricultural value chain for smallholders trying to move from subsistence farming to market-oriented production. Insurance allows farmers to have a risk management strategy that targets average years as they are no longer losing all in case of a dry devastating year. Productivity increase estimates caused by crop insurance in Africa run from 20% to 35%. Crop insurance is common in western countries where farms are large enough to have insurance agents visit individual farms. In the case of Africa, smallholder farms of a few hectares would be too small. Instead, the index-based insurance is used. When insufficient rain falls in your area, you will be paid out. The index can be based on in situ measurements of rain, on satellite imagery, or a combination of both. The products needed are similar to some of the maps and time series produced for the agricultural sector. The challenge is that one needs actuary risk assessments going back many years to beable to determine the fees and reinsurance value. The best solution fits perfectly the TWIGA paradigm of an optimal combination of satellites, in situ observations, and models. Satellite images provide the longest time series but need ground-based calibration. Once calibrated, long time series will be derived from satellite archives. Models will help, through micro-reanalysis, to ascertain where rainstorms did or did not occur. In addition, insurance providers have expressed the wish to be able to include hail damage insurance, especially in eastern and southern Africa. Hail detection and mapping will, therefore, be an important TWIGA innovation.
Products provided: Climate map of rainfall, detailed near-real-time rainfall maps, hail maps.
Information provided: Drought risk maps; actual rainfall at farm level; hail storm trails.
Energy providers will be important end-users, also because the cost/benefit of weather, water, and climate services are very clear and can often be expressed inkWhs lost or gained. Renewable energy production will be our main focus: hydropower, solar/photovoltaic (PV), and wind. Only 2% of Africa’s hydropower potential has been harnessed so far. Large-scale opportunities are well-known and subject to debate, but much less is known about the potential of small-scale community run-of-the-river hydropower solution, where we expect TWIGA will have the most impact. In an operational sense, two modes are relevant. First are state and predictions to estimate near-future energy production. By better assessment of weather and water in a watershed, hydropower companies will be able to better operate their reservoirs and PV and wind farms will know better what to expect. It will not only be possible to provide data about one’s own installations but also about those of other companies. In all, the energy mix will become more reliable, supporting climate mitigation in Africa. Second, are services concerning maintenance of, especially, wind and PV. By providing wind and radiation data in near-real time, actual energy production can be compared to what should have been produced, triggering maintenance in case of gaps.
Products provided: Climate maps of wind, rain, radiation; near-real-time maps of wind, rain, radiation, and river runoff. Information provided: Energy potential maps for solar, wind, and hydro; actual rainfall at reservoir watershed level and associated runoff; actual radiation and wind energy at the installation level.
Drinking water companies are of extreme socio-economic importance in a continent where 319 million people do not have access to safe and reliable household water. In most countries, the burden of providing household water lies on women, who spend much of their time walking to and from water sources. There are several ways in which TWIGA can support water companies. First, reservoir management can be supported in a similar way as for hydropower companies with actual and expected inflows. Second, groundwater recharge is a good measure of the sustainable yield of aquifers used for drinking water. Third, water demand in urban areas is closely linked to reference evaporation, the drier and hotter a city is, the higher water consumption will be. Anticipation on such changes in demands can improve operational efficiency. Fourth, combined satellite and in situ data can be used in support of water saving measures, such as the present prohibition of watering lawns and gardens in many municipalities in South Africa, for which presently no objective monitoring measures exist.
Products provided: River runoff; groundwater recharge maps; reference evaporation maps; (urban)vegetation maps.
Information provided: Actual rainfall at reservoir watershed level and associated runoff; sustainable aquifer extraction levels (historically and actual); household water demand maps; (urban) irrigated area maps
Disaster and natural hazard managers are mainly found within specializedgovernment agencies and NGOs, such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Drought is an important and prominent natural disaster in Africa but it is a slow and widespread process for which many well-developed early warning services exist. AlthoughTWIGA will produce its own drought maps based on in situ and satellite data, they mainly serve other sectors such as insurance and drinking water companies. Instead, we will focus on hazards associated with excess water, such as (flash) floods, mud streams, and landslides, for which no geo-information services exist. Again, the combination of satellite data, especially the more and more frequently available Sentinel SAR data, and in situ data on rainfall and storms will be important to quickly deliver information on affected areas.
Products provided: Flood maps; rainfall maps; river and stream runoff time series; soil moisture maps.
Information provided: Flood extents and damage estimates; early warning for (flash) floods, mud streams, and landslides.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No.776691. The opinions expressed on the web page are of the authors only and no way reflect the European Commission’s opinions. The European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information.