Announcing the Africa Rainfall Project

What if your computer could run weather simulations that could help farmers in Africa successfully grow their crops? We're excited to announce the Africa Rainfall Project, our first project in partnership with The Weather Company.

Why are accurate rainfall forecasts particularly important for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa?

Most farms in Africa (about 95 percent) depend on rainfall to successfully raise their crops. However, because rainfall in Africa is often localized—sometimes almost at the level of one farm—it's difficult to forecast accurately with technology such as satellite data, which shows larger weather patterns.

The Africa Rainfall Project aims to change that by creating more accurate rainfall forecasts that use rainfall data from The Weather Company, satellite data, ground observations, and data derived from weather simulations run on World Community Grid. 

How can my computer help?

You can sign up to donate unused computing power from your desktop or laptop to the Africa Rainfall Project. 

Through this project, researchers at Delft University of Technology are creating high-resolution computer simulations of localized rainstorms in sub-Saharan Africa. Because they will use massive, crowdsourced computing power from World Community Grid, they will be able run simulations at a much higher level of detail—exactly what’s needed for localized rainstorms. This has never been done for rainstorms in this region.

Who is behind this project?

The project's principal investigator, Professor Nick van de Giesen, is Van Kuffeler Chair of Water Resources Management of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, as well as chairman of the Delft Global Initiative, which connects scientists at Delft University with partners in developing countries to solve issues. Professor van de Giesen has been doing scientific work related to Africa for more than 20 years, and he's been interested in the field for much longer. "In high school I was very into chemistry, biology, and physics," says Professor van de Giesen. "I was also interested in science that has a positive impact on the world." 

Learn more about the research team here.

What's unique about the Africa Rainfall Project?

Professor van de Giesen has been working with weather simulations over Africa for a long time. He says, “The finer the grid we calculate with, the better we capture rainfall and convective (localized) rainstorms. But we’ve never been able to push that to the end—looking at weather patterns at a level of 500 meters to 1 kilometer. This is the first time we’ll be able to map huge parts of Africa for a whole rainy season, and has never been done before at this level of resolution. This is only possible because of the amount of computing power we'll have through World Community Grid.”

Why are the data from the Africa Rainfall Project useful for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa?

More accurate rainfall forecasts will help farmers make better plans for planting season. Additionally, knowledge of recent past rainfall over Africa can be used for insurance for small farmers. This insurance is an important tool to make agriculture more climate resilient. Later, rainfall information could also be used for irrigation and hydropower planning in Africa.

To contribute to the Africa Rainfall Project, join World Community Grid, or if you are already a volunteer, make sure the project is selected on your My Projects page.