Weather Mtaani leaders in Nairobi win award for ground-breaking Community Forecasting and Early Warning Service incubated under DARAJA
Weather Mtaani community leaders in Kenya have applied and were successful in receiving a grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation to launch their newly formed social enterprise and expand their community services to help their fellow residents prepare and adapt to high impact weather events such as floods and heatwaves.
James Kirika and Esther Wanja are local community leaders for Weather Mtaani, an innovative community climate information service that they pioneered with the Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) under DARAJA, Africa’s most inclusive urban weather forecasting and early warning service and partnership.
James, Esther and their fellow Weather Mtaani leaders (pictured above) work within their community settlement in Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.
Weather Mtaani’s interactions with key actors in the DARAJA project – community coordinators from Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) meteorologists, Red Cross climate scientists and responders, and radio station chiefs – have helped them to provide their fellow community residents with improved weather forecasts and early warning services.
James Kirika, in recognition of the award says, “I would like to say I am thankful to the Shuttleworth Foundation and also feel that our work is being recognized and celebrated beyond Kibera.”
Esther Wanja, added, “I am saying thank you to the Shuttleworth Foundation for the grant. It will boost our activities and make us continue to work as leaders.”
Resurgence CEO, Mark Harvey concluded, “We commend the Shuttleworth Foundation for providing this financing to Weather Mtaani Leaders in a rapid, unbureaucratic manner that goes directly to those living at the sharp end of urban climate hazards. Shuttleworth’s approach embodies the kind of climate adaptation financing called for by IIED in its ‘Designing Funds for the Frontier‘ report, which calls for more climate funding to go directly to local organisations where it really counts.”
The Weather Mtaani Service was established in Kibera, Nairobi through the impetus of local community leaders such as James and Ester. Weather Mtaani provides a regular SMS based service that relays the city forecasts of Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) and any high impact weather alerts, adding locally relevant practical advice in the local vernacular, Sheng.
As part of their service to the local community, the Weather Mtaani leaders also organise drain and garbage clearances in advance of heavy rain alerts. The Weather Mtaani Leaders provide an important feedback loop to the forecasting team at the national weather agency , the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) on the accuracy, intelligibility, utility and timeliness of KMD forecasts and early warnings.
DARAJA began as a UK FCDO (UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) funded project of the Met Office-led Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) Programme. DARAJA aims to improve the climate resilience of vulnerable populations living in informal settlements around the world. Additional financing support was provided by EIT Climate-KIC.
Resurgence is planning to scale up the DARAJA service and partnership , making it available for 250 million residents of informal settlements in 30 cities across the globe.