Kenyan scientist Muthoni Masinde created an app that predicts droughts
Published on: May 30, 2020 05:08 (EAT)
An app is combining weather station data with the traditional knowledge of African farmers to predict droughts. To help prepare farmers for the effects of climate change, Kenyan computer scientist Muthoni Masinde has created mobile platform ITIKI. The name stands for Information Technology and Indigenous Knowledge, and the platform sends farmers drought forecasts via an app or SMS message. Although it uses meteorological data, Masinde says most African farmers can better relate to the traditional knowledge that is also used to formulate the platform’s predictions. “I grew up in a [Kenyan] village and I noticed that most farmers do not have any form of science to tell [them] when to plant,” Masinde told CNN Business. “They watch insects, they watch the behavior of animals and then they make a decision, ‘I think it’ll rain in two weeks’ time.'” ITIKI employs young people in farming communities to gather photos and updates about animal behavior and local vegetation, such as which trees are flowering. They capture their findings on the ITIKI app, and ITIKI collates this information with data from local weather stations to model weather patterns months in advance. Farmers can subscribe to the service for just a few cents, and receive regular updates in their local language, helping them make early decisions about which crops they should grow and whether to sell or save their produce.