ICT in rural disaster preparedness
24 July 2012
ICTs can be used to both predict natural disasters and, crucially, warn smallholders so that they may make preparations to mitigate losses during extreme weather events.
Natural disasters present some of the most significant threats to agricultural productivity and livelihoods, particularly for smallholder farmers. Though national weather and disaster prediction systems are becoming more advanced, they are worth little unless localized and disseminated to farmersin a timely, accessible manner. ICTs can be used to both predict natural disasters and, crucially, warn smallholders so that they may make preparations to mitigate losses during extreme weather events. These capabilities are more becoming more important as climate change results in less predictable, more frequent, and more severe disasters.
The ubiquity of mobile phones in rural regions has proven fertile ground for companies or agencies seeking to use applications to improve access to information and services. Mobile phones and features like SMS have also created the opportunity for stakeholders to receive extreme weather warnings that are accessible and targeted. The need for mobile alerts strengthened following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Many countries and organizations have developed tsunami alert systems with mobile phone components, which have been successful in alerting high-risk individuals like fishers during subsequent tsunamis. ICTs offer significant versatility; the same subscription-based system of sharing market information or integrating tsunami prediction into alerts can be adapted to predict droughts, provide localized weather forecasts, or alert farmers of impending climatic disasters.
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