Mobile phone technology is being extensively used in Africa and elsewhere to provide information, services, and education to people in rural communities. At its best, a mobile service has advantages over traditional approaches – it can provide cheap, up-to-date information, which is tailored to the needs of the individual receiving it, and relevant to their particular location.
This aspect of DOWN2EARTH, led by the App Development Team, will develop a mobile phone app service for use by agro-pastoralists to access tailored information generated from our hydrological model. The system will consist of a mobile app and a backend server. It will provide information from seasonal forecasts (for the upcoming rainy season) on soil moisture storage, groundwater storage, and crop yields for a set of different crop types for a given user’s location, as percentage differences (plus or minus) compared to a defined baseline condition. The app will also report uncertainty estimates for these forecasts. The service will be designed in such a way that it provides this information that is tailored to the specific context of agro-pastoralists in HAD. It will also present information in a way which is sensitive to their culture and existing practices, so it can be easily interpreted and acted upon. The app will also provide a channel for the agro-pastoralists to input their own observations, and we will explore ways to motivate them to do this. Our broader ambition is to have two versions of the app: a desktop version for government agencies and NGOs; and a smart phone version for agro-pastoralists and extension workers.