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RANET. Dissemination and Communication of Environmental Information for Rural and Remote Community Development. Kelly Sponberg, March 2006 kelly.sponberg@noaa.gov.

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Dissemination and Communication


Environmental Information


Rural and Remote Community Development

Kelly Sponberg, March 2006


RANETRadio and Internet Technologies for the Communication ofHydro-Meteorological and Climate Information for Rural Development

"RANET has focused on a specific informational need and has trained farmers how to apply the information. When the system is in place, farmers notice tangible benefits to themselves within one season. They are better able to plan for and cope with climatic conditions, resulting in more plentiful harvests. But an additional, higher-level benefit is that they have learned how to obtain, value and apply practical information delivered via ICTs. This is a skill, a behavioral change, that can help them improve many other aspects of their livelihoods."

ranet 101
‘RANET 101’


  • is an international collaboration of meteorological and similar services working to improve rural and remote community access to weather, climate, and related information;
  • works in parts of Africa and the Pacific, with several Asia countries beginning activities in 2006. LAC possibilities in 2007;
  • support to maintain and develop base systems is currently provided by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, NOAA, the Australia Bureau of Met. and AusAID, New Zealand Met. Service and NZAID, however significant in kind support, local resources, and donation of technical services make RANET possible;
  • stresses local ownership within the program and through equipment deployment;
  • works with partners to develop a holistic response to community information needs (a.k.a.: RANET’s 1% rule);
  • is a technology implementation, not a platform, based program


Simplified System Diagram

3) At the top of nearly every hour the uplink station sends the uploaded information to the satellite for broadcast over all of Asia and parts of the Pacific.

2) Presentation sent via Internet to a satellite uplink station (Singapore or Melbourne). Some information automatically updated, others require manual uploading.

4) The broadcast is then received by digital radios that are hooked into computers.

5) The broadcast can be used by meteorological services, extension agencies, or even local communities who might use the content to improve their own products or to translate information into the local language and according to local interest.

1) Global, regional, national and local information from various producers blended into single presentation, compatible with satellite broadcast

6) Technologies, such as HF and VHF radio, telephone and Internet, allow rural communities and extension agencies to send information requests, provide feedback and receive technical support.

other ranet implementations current and planned
Other RANET Implementations (Current and Planned)
  • Digital HF Networks
  • RANET Internet Presence Initiative (RIPI): Web Hosting and Training
  • RANET Alert Watcher (RAW): SMS Alert Notification
  • Community Reporter: Field Reporting Via SMS
  • Inmarsat BGAN: 2-Way Satellite System for Text Communication
  • ‘GTS Life Lines’
  • ‘Broadcast Personalities’
  • Regional Technical Support Personnel Housed at Existing Centers (e.g.- GCOS Technical Support Centers)

RANET Application Example

Kayunga, Uganda

RALT 2 Field Visit

November 2005


The Issue

A farmer’s cooperative, located outside of Kayunga, Uganda harvests a variety of fruits such as mango, pineapple, jackfruit, and banana. This and a number of cooperatives sun dry the fruit for bulk export to local and European markets. Sun drying conforms to organic standards and keeps operational costs low by avoiding expenses associated with use of fuel for ovens. However, the fruit takes two-three days to completely dry. A small rain shower during the drying period can destroy a large part of a harvest and labor necessary to prepare the fruit for drying. Weeks of work can literally be destroyed by a little rain.


The Community

Kayunga is located about 80km north and east of Kampala. By road it is about and hour and a half driving. While the city center of the Kayunga community is powered, communication infrastructure is minimal. It has the only one telephone center for individuals in the surrounding community to use. Some cellular coverage exists in the city center, but ownership is very low and use is typically limited to small messages (SMS) to avoid the costs associated with voice communication.


The Community

In Kayunga there is a District Farmers Association. These Associations are the primary extension units in the some 60 districts throughout Uganda. Funding for the Associations is minimal and supported by external donors, some local/municipal funds, and occasionally membership fees equivalent to $1 per year. Based on a number of site visits, Associations typically have a yearly operating budget (staff and supplies) of $1,000 - $4,000 USD. Many of the staff in these associations are volunteer or receive only a small stipend. The staff typically include a coordinator and 3-4 extension officers who travel around to the various farmers and cooperatives throughout each week. Farmers coming into town can also visit the Association to receive updates and other information.


Role of RANET

The Uganda RANET coordinator, in cooperation with the Kayunga Farm Association and donors such as USAID and Action Aid, have setup a community information center at the Farmers Association office. This center includes a computer, printer, and WorldSpace receiver.

The RANET coordinator also talks with the Farmer’s Association to have extension staff describe farmer information needs.

Back in Kampala, the RANET coordinator is able to upload information (weather and seasonal forecasts, agricultural bulletins, etc.) to the satellite broadcast. This information is then downloaded in Kayunga by the Farmers Association which prints information for visiting farmers and/or delivers information during a field visit by an extension officer. Farmers also use the same RANET system to receive information from other content providers – such as market prices, information on crop diseases, child health, general education, and even construction of small structures.


Information Flow Diagram / Summary






  • Information from the National Hydro-Meteorological Service (Uganda), such as weather forecasts and agricultural bulletins, as well as information, such as seasonal forecasts and satellite imagery, from external groups like the IRI, NOAA, FAO, DMCs, FEWS, etc, is uploaded to the RANET server.
  • The RANET servers format the content and automatically schedule it for broadcast over Africa on the WorldSpace AfriStar satellite. RANET broadcasts on the First Voice International Channel, which carries a variety of development and humanitarian information such as general health, agriculture, basic education, etc.
  • The AfriStar satellite broadcasts RANET and other content at specified times in a digital format. The First Voice International channel is a data/multimedia channel, meaning all content is text, graphic, or audio/video and downloaded to a computer.
  • The Kayunga Farmer Association receives the information at its offices via equipment provided by RANET and partnering aid organizations.
  • Information is printed for visiting farmers to use and extension officers with the Farmers Association who visit farmers and cooperatives to deliver information and further assess information needs.