Boston, 2021 – TomorrowNow.org, a global non-profit helping vulnerable communities adapt to climate change, today announced that it was awarded a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop innovative weather intelligence for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The 18-month project will build the foundation for boosting crop resilience and improving food security globally.
Drought, floods, wildfires, storms, pests, and animal disease cause nearly $10 billion per year in crop and livestock losses in less developed countries, where most farmers do not have crop insurance. The lack of weather data and reliable forecasts in much of the developing world prevents farmers from adequately preparing for extreme weather and climate conditions, often resulting in devastating crop losses.
TomorrowNow.org will collaborate with partners such as CGIAR and Tomorrow.io to develop tools for seed breeders, crop modelers and on-farm managers to close the weather data gap and turn forecasts into action. The project will connect advanced weather solutions, including high-resolution weather models and satellite data, with climate innovators to build sustainable pathways for global access to decision support technologies.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to food security, and billions of lives are at stake around the world,” said Georgina Campbell Flatter, Executive Director for TomorrowNow.org. “Innovative weather technologies and strong partnerships are integral to improving the lives of smallholder farmers and making crops more resilient to extreme weather such as drought and flooding.”
But this partnership is not just about managing weather risk. It is also about the opportunity to empower resilient solutions across the farming lifecycle. The development of new seed varieties, for example, is essential to meeting growing food demand and increasing the tolerance of crops to weather extremes. However, seed breeding is currently impeded by weather data that is too coarse or inaccurate, and identifying optimal seed varieties for a given location is complicated by shifting climate zones. The weather intelligence solutions developed will support the recently announced Niche project, which will bring together partners including Regrow, NASA Harvest, Global Yield Gap Atlas and One Acre Fund to help seed developers in Sub-Saharan Africa to establish more climate-adaptive crops.
“If we are trying to understand whether rain caused crop failure, it really matters to know if 20mm of rain fell in one hour or over 48 hours” Dr Julian Ramirez-Villegas, Senior Scientist on Climate Impacts, CGIAR.
“This project is a huge step forward in recognizing the important role of weather intelligence for advancing our climate adaptation and resilience work.”
Poor access to and usability of weather decision support tools has historically limited their beneficial impact for farming and agriculture, especially for smallholders. TomorrowNow.org and its partners aim to enable inclusive use of data across the farming value chain by incorporating FAIR data standards and by representing the voice of farmers, especially women, in the tools design phase. Women account for roughly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and in Africa are responsible for producing 70 percent of the food, but typically lack the same agricultural resources as men.
“Weather intelligence is both a critical enabler and often a forgotten input for climate adaptation. Through this collaboration, we are taking important steps to ensure weather intelligence is widely accessible,” Flatter said. “We are committed both to bringing the latest innovations to those most in need and also sustaining them long-term, ultimately helping to lift billions from poverty.”
For more information on this announcement, see today’s feature in the Boston Globe.
TomorrowNow.org, the independently operated non-profit founded by Tomorrow.io, helps vulnerable populations adapt to the climate changes that are happening now. Bringing the latest in global weather intelligence to a community level, we work together with the public, private and NGO sectors to form innovative partnerships that will empower the next generation of climate adaptation and resilience solutions.