LUSAKA, March 29 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said on Tuesday that a group of young software developers have created a mobile applications aimed at providing weather information to vulnerable communities in Africa.
Under its Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa (CIRDA) program, the UNDP has come up with the Climate Action Hackathon initiative, which recently awarded a total of 23 out of 100 people who applied for scholarships to attend a Climate Action Hackathon training program in Zambia's southern city of Livingstone.
The applicants were mandated to create applications aimed at dealing with the challenges in brining weather and climate information to African communities, according to a statement emailed to Xinhua by the UNDP office in Lusaka.
According to the statement, experts from the UNDP, Columbia and Stanford University's The Brown Institute for Media Innovations and The International Research Institute for Climate and Society facilitated discussions to help the applicants understand the nuanced approaches necessary, and connect broad sets of data with the unique needs of end users.
"The Hackathon is about creating African-built high-tech solutions for Africa's challenges in adapting to climate change," said Catherine Vaughan, Senior Staff Associate with International Research Institute for Climate and Society.
"By leveraging mobile communications, text messages and other new-generation technologies, African nations have a great opportunity to share improved weather reports with the communities that need it the most," Vaughan added.
According to CIRDA program manager Bonizella Biagini, farmers in sub-Saharan Africa were facing increased risk as a result of changing climate, adding that the applications developed have the potential to both save lives and protect livelihoods.
With dozens of local languages, high-levels of illiteracy, and limited electricity and access to media, many vulnerable communities in Africa do not receive reliable weather reports, and only a few nations possess the ability to issue early warning messages.
"By connecting energetic young application developers with national hydro meteorological services and disaster management units across sub-Saharan Africa, we are working to bridge the last mile to bring actionable weather information to vulnerable communities across the region," said Biagini.