As extreme weather events become more frequent and intense, there is an urgent need to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on economic activities like farming. However, these complex data are often difficult for the average person to easily interpret and comprehend.
Cameroonian start-up Map&Rank leverages drone technology, environmental knowledge, big data and programming to carry out climate risk data collection, analysis and display. It then transmits this information to vulnerable communities, encouraging them engage in addressing pressing ecological and socioeconomic challenges that affect their livelihoods.
“We aim to boost climate change literacy and inspire climate action among local populations, especially in Cameroon,” said Sikem Brice Nyuykonghi, CEO of Map&Rank.
Nyuykonghi was one of 15 entrepreneurs selected from an application pool of nearly 700 start-ups who participated in the Africa ClimAccelerator – first pan-African accelerator focused on scaling the most promising climate-focused innovations.
The start-up has built a platform that serves as a data pool on local climate risks in Cameroon. Map&Rank collects data that can be used to forecast potential climate risks and disseminates the information to communities and government agencies.
“I founded the firm after seeing a huge gap in climate change comprehension, as locals did not fully understand what global warming was while stakeholders had difficulties accessing data related to climate change. I felt that we could fill these gaps and make sure that frontline organisations and individuals have access to climate change data, which they can use to make informed decisions,” he added.
Nyuykonghi says some parts of Cameroon have been experiencing erratic rainfall, leading to drought conditions or severe flooding. Rising sea levels threaten coastal settlements and businesses.
Through the platform Residat, local residents and government agencies are able to access information for the Mayo-Danay division,the Noun division in the western plains of Cameroon, and the Wouri division in the Littoral region. These three divisions have distinct climates and geography and are affected by climate change differently than the country’s 55 other divisions.
“Our customers are local government institutions, insurance companies working with farmers, and other sectors facing climate change impacts,” said Nyuykonghi.
Map&Rank’s shared data infrastructure allows local communities and frontline organisations to actively participate in data generation by profiling their local climate risk observations and needs. The start-up provides a one-stop shop for local climate risk and environmental data.
“We plan to map out about one-third of Cameroon’s geographic space made up of about 100 communities with a population of almost 9 million people. We also target over 1,000 frontline community organisations by profiling their data on our platform,” said Nyuykonghi.
Map&Rank also raises awareness among local communities about how certain lifestyles and activities contribute to global warming. It does this by integrating technology into its communication activities and creating fun board games inspired by drone images for use in its community outreach campaigns.
Its long-term goals include establishing a countrywide platform that educates, profiles climate change risks for local communities and communicates climate data in a relatable way. The start-up plans to capture and visualise data for the whole of Cameroon and also expand outside the country.