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MAK scientists urged to communicate

By: Geoffrey Nyerere & Jacky Achan

Ugandan Scientists have been urged to develop effective communication skills, if they are to ably share their innovations with communities that stand to benefit from their works.

Patrick Luganda a Global Media Trainer and Communications Advisor on the Geneva based Commission for Climatology in the World Metrology Organization says scientists need to benefit society with their knowledge and encourage informed decision making.

“Communication is the epitome of science or any other discipline. What is communicated is what is believed,” he said.

Luganda remarked during media training for Makerere University Researchers and PHD students held Thursday at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS).

He assured the Researchers working on the NORAD project on improving Weather Information Management in East Africa for effective service provision through the application of sustainable ICTs (WIMEA-ICT) that the existing communication gap can be bridged.

“Journalists can be paired with scientists to work together over a period of time to build their capacity to clearly report on new innovations in the science sector,” he advised. [Listen in]

He also added: “The communication component needs to be built within all science projects to enable scientists share their innovation with society who mostly benefit from their innovations.”  [Listen in]

Prof. Gregg Pascal Zachary of Arizona State University USA, at the same media training said with complexity of science, valuing communication and taking risks is key to efficiency and making known new innovations to society by scientists.

Dr. Juliane Sansa-Otim is the Principle Investigator of the NORAD WIMEA_ICT project, a partnership led by Makerere University, together with the University of Bergen Geophysical Institute in Norway, Dar es salaam Institute of Technology and the University of Juba.

The project seeks to advance all aspects of meteorology in East Africa from increasing the density of weather stations, trainings in weather prediction and analysis, to innovative ways of disseminating forecasts.

“This project will provide real answers in forecasting and disseminating properly package weather information to the grassroots people who mostly engage in agriculture,” Otim says. [Listen in]


Dr. Otim also added that the project will enable the rollout of 30 weather stations in Uganda, another 30 in Tanzania and 10 in Juba at its conclusion by 2018. [Listen in]

Uganda has some infrastructure in place, but its weather services still uses analogue weather stations which are manually monitored.

One of the goals of the project is to develop and deploy small autonomous weather stations powered by wind turbines or solar cells and increase station density by 70 to 100 stations across the three countries.

This part of the project will receive input from the University of Stockholm with its expertise in electronics and electrical engineering.

The weather stations will cost about $2,000 per unit, compared to the official weather station of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) at $50,000 per unit.
The project also hopes to link these national networks of weather stations in order to further increase the accuracy of forecasts.

Though the national meteorological services control all national weather data and have monopoly on giving forecasts, Dr. Otim says they are working closely on this new project and the authority could allow free access to data and welcome innovative approaches to publishing forecasts.

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