The first five years of the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological observatory (TAHMO): From nice idea to a network of 500+ stations (Invited)

Nick van de Giesen, Frank Annor, Rebecca Hochreutener, John Selker

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


In 2014, the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) was officially founded as a Dutch not-for-profit foundation. Now, five years later, TAHMO has become the largest provider of scientific weather and climate data for sub-Sahara Africa. The present network of 500 stations in 20 countries still falls well short of the final network of 20,000 stations but we should already consider TAHMO as a major success, as it has shown that it is possible to run a cost-effective observation network.

TAHMO distinguishes itself through different approaches with respect to technology, operation, and financial sustainability. Innovations in all these aspects are needed to move forward and will be discussed in some detail during the presentation.

TAHMO has partnered with METER Group in the co-design of the current weather station. Originally, the thought was to develop a very cheap ($200) station ourselves but the engineering needed to move from a proof-of-concept to a fool-proof concept is more complex than one may think. Many ideas have been bounced between the two teams and tested in the field in Africa, leading to a third generation apparatus that is very robust.

Over 90% of TAHMO stations are placed at (secondary) schools. This provides some physical but especially social protection. Educational material is provided to engage teachers and students and to encourage them to help out with simple maintenance, such as cleaning. Also the IT backbone, developed with support through IBM's Corporate Social Responsibility activities is worth mentioning as it supports state-of-the-art QA/QC.

Financial sustainability
So far, most stations have been funded through projects funded by different donors and agencies. A large investment by IBM / Weather Underground formed the basis for a rapid expansion of 333 stations. To ensure long-term financial sustainability, TAHMO provides data services to commercial users. Clearly, value chains run from raw data to actionable information. Willingness to pay increases exponentially along that chain. For this reason TAHMO has become part of a network of entities that bridge the gap between weather station and information market.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAGU Fall Meeting 2019 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 9 Dec 201913 Dec 2019


ConferenceAGU Fall Meeting 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Internet address


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