Project Results: 

Severe Weather Warning for Musanze City

Warning system and app for lightning and floods for Musanze

About the project
This project was meant to develop the basic building blocks for an integrated (severe) weather alert platform for the farming communities and residents of Musanze. The ultimatie goal is that farmers and residents will get weather predictions with alerts on floods and lightning on their phones. This will help them protect themselves and their properties, preventing agricultural losses and loss of lives and goods. First step was the development of a low-cost, solar-powered lightning sensor to monitor lightning proximity and direction. Also other weather data (rainfall, temperature, wind, humidity) were collected from weather stations in Musanze.

Key result
Proof-of-concept for a low-cost lightning sensor and weather alert service platform for alerting users to severe weather alerts and crop farming advice.

Tips for the future

  • Technical development of an innovation like a lightning sensor takes up a considerable amount of time.

  • Work on a good relationship with the local weather agency (who might feel undermined in their responsibilities in providing weather based services).

  • There is value in partners being in the same geographical location to jointly work on an innovation.

Potential for growth
The development of the lightning sensor and weather service platform are still going on, made possible with new funding. The project lead SWC worked closely with HollandGreentech and Seed Potato Fund to expand their services to different farming communities. These collaborations could be a good option for scaling the innovation to this target group in the first instance. Also, when the platform is ready for market, local government agencies and tourist operators could be provided with a tailored weather prediction service.

Project partner
Severe Weather Consult, Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory, Rwanda Meteorology Agency.

January 2017 – December 2018


Musanze City, Rwanda


We are implementing the project in Musanze in northern Rwanda, a city that has among the most extreme weather conditions in the world. The city is in a region argued to be the lightning capital of the world. Due to the neighboring volcano mountains, the city often receives extreme rainfall that causes flooding. Musanze is a bustling city and top tourism destination in Rwanda and host over 90,000 residents.The city has high population and structure density. In the countryside, residents practice small-scale farming. Facilities that raise livestock are also at risk as these animals tend to shelter under trees in storm situations. Most of the food and agriculture-related critical facilities are privately owned farms that may own sizeable herds of livestock. There are added lightning strike vulnerability on entertainment and outdoor recreation activities.

Project Plan


Target group

Our main target group are low-income earners in Musanze city: city dwellers, business people, tourists, tour guides, hotel owners and farmers.
City dwellers, business people, tourists, tour guides, hotel owners and farmers.


The goal is to turn the project into a self sustainable business through the sale of weather products. Further we would add concrete advisory services to the weather data, e.g. use the weather data for weather index-based insurances. To achieve this, we will engage in additional marketing to help reach wider public. We will explore and implement soil related services. i.e. explore opportunities in measuring soil data, earth observation and geo-information data and translate data into useful advice.
To further enhance the sustainability of the project, SWC will seek partnership with government agencies like Meteo Rwanda, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Disaster Management among others.

Overview of Goals

The primary goal is to implement a weather information system in Musanze city of Rwanda. The system generates weather predictions and information that is made available to a wide variety of users on phone and web application. Alongside that, the system will issue alerts on flood and lightning.

Results and indicators

  • SWC’s staff will have enough capacity and required skills to offer weather and climate-related training, monitor the early warning and weather predictions; SWC will improve its professional network and capacity.
  • SWC's capacity is built to effectively provide early warning for floods & lightning information, weather forecast and predictions to tourism, agricultural, urbanization & health stakeholders
    • The following activities will be carried out
      * Satellite weather data subscription
      * Collect, store and combine data from AWS and satellites
      * Develop data communication chain for weather predictions
      * Develop weather prediction system (WRF)
      * Develop weather information and alert delivery channels (SMS, USSD, Mobile app and Geo portal)
      * Evaluate weather prediction system and information delivery systems
  • SWC's capacity is built to effectively respond to training needs in weather and climate services for tourism, agricultural, urbanization & health stakeholders (Businessmen, tours & travel agencies guides, tourists & researchers, small & large - scale farmers, GoR bodies, city residents) in Musanze city;