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KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICY

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Publication | 29 March 2021

On the power of microwave communication data to monitor rain for agricultural needs in Africa

Global Food and Nutrition Security

Over the last two decades, prevalent technologies and Internet of Things (IoT) systems have been found to have potential for carrying out environmental monitoring. The data generated from these infrastructures are readily available and have the potential to provide massive spatial coverage. The costs involved in using these data are minimal since the records are already generated for the original uses of these systems. Commercial microwave links, which provide the underlying framework for data transfer between cellular network base stations, are one example of such a system and have been found useful for monitoring rainfall. Wireless infrastructure of this kind is deployed widely by communication providers across Africa and can thus be used as a rainfall monitoring device to complement the sparse proprietary resources that currently exist or to substitute for them where alternatives do not exist. Here we focus this approach’s potential to acquire valuable information required for agricultural needs across Africa using Kenya as an example.