Weather forecasting

The problem

In Bangladesh climatic conditions differ rapidly from one region to another, making it very difficult for farmers to make  decisions about when to plant and harvest crops.   Accurate forecasts of rainfall and temperature can substantially contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and improving farmer’s livelihoods.

These forecasts are helping farmers decide on important factors such as crop selection, timing of planting, irrigation and pest management. In partnership with the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and Agricultural Information Service we have been providing this information in flood vulnerable southern districts. 


What we’re doing to help

Objective: Forecasting for flood resilience for farmers in Bangladesh

Location: Khulna, Satkhira and Jessore in Bangladesh
Partners: Bangladesh Meteorological Department and Department of Agricultural Extension
Principal funders: Zurich Insurance Group, the Z Zurich Foundation

The project is providing localized context specific information to farmers on disease outbreaks and remedies, pesticide management and alternative farming practices throughout the year as well early warning in times of emergency. This has helped to establish the service as a reliable source. An automatic weather station gathers accurate information from the field. We have assembled a team of weather and agricultural experts to analyse the data from these stations and develop localized context specific advisories in their local dialects.These are sent out via voice message to the appropriate locality. This helps to overcome the barrier of illiteracy.

We have been working with entrepreneurs to supply equipment to provide internet services to their communities. They can access flood warning information online and use this to update local weather information boards to alert people to the flood situation. The system is made financially sustainable by enabling entrepreneurs to run their own business using the equipment and internet connection.  There are 55 such boards operational in Bangladesh.

Providing accurate and accessible weather forecasts to hundreds of thousands of farmers is a big challenge. To overcome it, we have worked with the Bangladesh Government and local communities to install an automatic weather station covering three of the most vulnerable areas of Bangladesh: Khulna, Satkhira and Jessore.

Weather information is a new concept to these communities and Practical Action are working with them to enable farmers to make the best use of the information. Using a database of nearly 6,000 people in these three districts, we have disseminated 200,000 agro meteorological advisory voice messages, installed 55 digital weather boards, a call centre and trained local agents in around 50 Union Councils.

Watch a documentary BBC Click made about this technology

Look how far your money can go

I have a small pond where I cultivate fish but that pond does not have sufficient boundaries to  protect my fish from flooding. These short messages saved my fish and helped me to earn money by selling the fish.  – Anisur Rahman, Siragonj


Forecasting saves the day

Godkhali is a region in the disaster vulnerable southern part of Bangladesh famed for its flower farms. But the livelihoods of these farmers suffer from a lack of proper weather information.

But one of Godkhali's flower farmers, Mr Rahman, has a smile on his face this year, because he produced and sold a bumper crop of flowers in the first quarter of the year. 

But it could have been a disaster. During the tropical storm season in April, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department forecast heavy rain. Mr Rahman was not aware of this threat and planned to cut the flowers from his field to sell them to buyers arriving thee following day to take them to Dhaka where they would fetch a good price.

But just in time a Practical Action voice message reached Mr Rahman, informing him about the heavy rain. So he held back from harvesting until the rain has stopped. His buyers were unable to reach him that day and his cut flowers would have spoilt. This small, yet effective weather information saved Mr Rahman from a significant loss. News of this activity is spreading by word of mouth and earning strong credibility amongst Mr Rahman's fellow farmers. 

Zurich flood resilience measurement tool

Measuring the change that resilience building efforts have is key to demonstrate impact in communities. The alliance has developed a framework for measuring community flood resilience, with a technology based data gathering and evaluation tool for measurement and assessment of flood resilience. It allows users to generate evidence about the ways in which a given area or community are already resilient to floods, as well as providing a guide to further develop this resilience.

Find out more

Flood Resilience Programme

Building the resilience of poor communities vulnerable to flooding

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