Ugandan scientist explores artificial clouds for rain in drought seasons

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It’s a world of endless possibilities for a former biochemist at the Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Uganda, Khoi Khoi, who is looking forward to changing the fate of farmers in his country with a mind-blowing invention.

The Chief Executive of CODOPU, a biomedical engineering company, seeks to create artificial rain to salvage drought seasons and assist farmers in watering their crops in such seasons.

Through a project named Cloud Condensation, Khoi Khoi hopes to explore climate change mitigation strategies using cloud seeding technology.

This technology introduces tiny ice nuclei into certain types of subfreezing clouds to improve their ability to produce rain or snow.

His first trial in December 2023 saw the Mbarara city receive light rain of up to 2-4mm (0.07 – 0.15). 

"This is the first of its kind in Uganda, cloud seeding and this is a project we have been working on for the last year and a half. And we have managed to come up with cloud condensation nuclei which can be released in space so that we can have rain. People who would wish to understand what ice nucleis are, ice nucleis are the last particles that form rain in the sky. So when these nuclei are released through the sky, what they do is they attract the vapour and they grow, and after growing that chemistry creates rain for us," Khoi Khoi was quoted by local news outlet The Observer.

Khoi Khoi also indicated plans to collaborate with experts in South Korea to address potential challenges that pose threats of floods, and other natural disasters or drought in other areas where clouds may be drawn with the cloud seeding technology.

The seeded cloud also acts like a magnet which attracts other clouds from other regions which may then receive inadequate rainfall. Khoi Khoi says it is a challenge and South Korea University has been contacted to collaborate on possible solutions. 

The team of students and environmentalists from South Korea University is expected to arrive in Uganda in April 2024 to work towards a trial which will be conducted in October. He is expectant that about 2.9 million millimetres of rain will be formed.

"One of the disadvantages is that we have not come to the conclusion on how much or the amount of nuclei we're supposed to release in the sky or how much we are supposed to seed. If you seed a lot more than what the sky expects or what the cloud expects, you may find that can cause disasters like floods, tsunamis etc. And also, since it is like magnets, the nuclei can attract clouds from all over the region and you find other regions and countries don't have rain and for you, you're receiving rain. So it is also a challenge that we're going to embark on, the amount of nuclei that we're supposed to seed," Khoi Khoi was quoted.

Khoi Koi also noted that environmentally-friendly elements including sea salt and dust are being used in place of silver iodide for cloud seeding.

He noted that this is a potentially huge invention for Africa and by extension the world and urged for support.

“This is very important for Africa and the whole world at large. I wish the Ugandan government and all organizations should come out and support us in this cause,” Khoi Khoi said. 

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