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Airtel funds project to boost farming in Uganda

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Accra (Ghana): Indian telecommunication giant Airtel is spending $672,000 to support a project to provide timely weather reports to small-scale farmers in Uganda to boost their farming activities, it was announced on Sunday.

Airtel was backing the project undertaken by the Trans Africa Hydro Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO).

“Based on similar activities, in terms of information dissemination, in Malawi and Madagascar,” TAHMO’s co-director Nick van de Giesen told IANS that Airtel was contributing this time to provide important weather information to farmers in Uganda.

The project is also backed by research that shows that African weather was poorly monitored, especially for forecast purposes. TAHMO also has found out that most African societies were vulnerable to extreme weather events.

The organisation, therefore, is helping to make good predictions about rainfall as well as provide information on how much water vapour the atmosphere contains, van de Giesen said.

Admitting that changing weather patterns have been the bane of farming across the African continent, he said TAHMO was helping to “produce early warnings for heavy weather”.

He said:normal weather predictions will improve with better observations and this helps to plan short term farming operations such as planting and fertilising, in addition, detailed weather data allow for weather-index-based micro crop insurance, in which payments depend on nearby measurements.”

Since most of the farmers are illiterates, he said, “the phone messages are actually spoken messages in the relevant local language. So, as long as the farmers or fishermen know how to use a mobile phone, they can receive the messages by simply listening in.”

“We did a small trial pilot in local Luganda language during the preparation phase.”

Using the Global Navigation Satellite System, TAHMO was hoping to improve on rainfall predictions as well as measure the extra delay caused by moisture in the atmosphere

(Francis Kokutse, IANS)
( Photo Credit: www.gizbot.com) 

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Uganda Readies Itself To Fight Off Ebola From The DRC Border

A 2007 Ebola outbreak in Uganda, in the border town of Bundibugyo, infected 149 people

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Congo, Uganda, ebola
Health workers walk with a boy suspected of having been infected with the Ebola virus, at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, near Congo's border with Uganda. VOA

In Uganda, officials have stepped up measures to prevent an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Ebola has infected 319 people in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo since August, killing 198. The border between the countries remains open, and health experts fear the virus will enter Uganda through the cross-border traffic.

The Lamia River marks the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola-infected North Kivu Province and Uganda.

Despite the deadly viral outbreak, Uganda’s Health Ministry says 20,000 people cross the border every week, putting the country at high risk.

Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda
Congolese health workers register people and take their temperatures before they are vaccinated against Ebola in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

Ugandan Jane Biira goes to the DRC side at least twice a week to buy food and charcoal to sell back home.

“We have heard the disease is there but, we have to go out and trade. We are only a little scared, because we have never seen anyone fall ill with Ebola where we go. We buy the merchandise and leave.”

When Biira and others cross into Uganda they get checked at screening points by health care workers and volunteers, like Boaz Balimaka.

“We have the hand-washing, then disinfecting the feet, and screening, then we allow somebody to pass.”

Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda
A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a man before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

While no Ebola cases have yet been detected in Uganda, it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to appear.

The virus causes a severe hemorrhagic fever that kills at least half the people who become infected.

Even with border screenings, Butogo Town Council head John Kandole says they worry someone with Ebola could slip through.

“Somebody who comes from Congo, we don’t shake with him with hands. Once he comes to buy anything, he buy and go. And the money sometimes we have been fearing to get.”

Ebola, WHO, UNICEF, congo, Uganda
A World Health Organization (WHO) worker administers a vaccination during the launch of a campaign aimed at beating an outbreak of Ebola in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 21, 2018. VOA

Uganda’s Health Ministry is stepping up preventive measures by deploying an experimental Ebola vaccine for health care and front-line workers along the border.

Jane Ruth Aceng, Uganda’s health minister, says vaccines are also on standy-by.

Also Read: Ebola Not a Global Health Emergency: WHO

“Currently, in Uganda we have 2,100 doses of the vaccine available at the National Medical Stores, and preparations are in high gear, including training of the health workers that are to be targeted.”

A 2007 Ebola outbreak in Uganda, in the border town of Bundibugyo, infected 149 people, killed 37, and took several weeks to be contained. (VOA)