YOU would think that for a country that has declared itself to be agricultural for the last hundred or so years, Uganda would put much, much more by weather forecasts and other tools for reading and ordering life by this most important of phenomena.
You would be wrong.
Not 100% wrong, because we know that farmers definitely pay some serious attention to periodical changes in the weather since they have a direct impact on their livelihoods, and the majority of Ugandans are farmers.
But you would still be largely wrong because our interest in the weather is not commensurate by far to its importance in our general lives.
Even in the cities where the so-called educated elite live and operate, the weather and its vagaries are not much of an issue besides the general complaints about whether it is “too hot” or “too cold”.
The idea came to me when a pal joked last week that, according to the BBC, it WAS raining in Kampala already. After we had chuckled a bit I surreptitiously checked my Samsung Note 4 weather app and, indeed, the technology there told me that my part of Kampala was raining roundabout where I was sitting at the time.
It lied; the wetness we were broiling in at the time was our own sweat!
Personally, I am always checking the weather and will be found with an umbrella close by on most days. Early on in my life I saw my parents regularly follow weather forecasts in order to plan the day ahead, and it became ingrained in me that one had to watch TV to “catch the weather”.
When it was brought to the internet I was overjoyed! But the initial offering was a little short in effectiveness, being the CNN website; and back when it began, Kampala was not even on the list most days.
In the early 2000s, when my peers and I were frantically organising each other’s weddings, we found that we could do get five-day weather forecasts to tell whether to expect rain or not on the wedding day.
That was crucial information because it determined whether or not we would be spending a pile of money on hiring a tent (read marque) or not.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as reliable as we wanted but it gave us a much better guide than using a so-called ‘rain-maker’ as everybody else insists (to this day!) on doing. Believe it or not, there are chaps in this town who make a living pretending that they can stave off the rain when you have a large event, and we have event managers spending serious amounts of money on them!
Today’s weather apps are much more accurate, even though they are not right on the dot all the time.
Still, we should be doing a lot more with these weather apps to move this economy and society forward.
A localised app that explains the Highs and Lows of the Accuweather app, for instance, would get much more usage out of people here than the Accuweather app itself.
An app that alerts farmers or wannabe agriculturalists to what crops to plant when and where depending on weather patterns would make production more sensible.
An app that allows users to send their weather observations and experiences to the Metereological Centre would help gather information that other app users could use day-to-day or hour-to-hour.
Considering how much we use open air transportation such as boda-boda, there could even be an app that helps organise our traffic arrangements by way of the weather expected.
All in all, with all this technology at our disposal we need to be much more serious than my five-year-old, who insists that today’s forecast of cloudy weather cannot be correct.
“You see,” she argues, “On Fridays it is always sunny!”
In short, we need a weather app that my five-year-old will respect.