Melding science and tradition to tackle climate change
In the latest of several partnerships between tradition and modern science aimed at improving resilience to climate change, pastoralists and meteorologists in Tanzania are working together to produce weather forecasts better suited to farmers. The hope is that by drawing from both indigenous knowledge and contemporary weather forecasting techniques, crop yields could be increased.
Using traditional indicators such as the movement of red ants, the flowering of mango and other trees, the migration of termites and patterns and colours in the sky, farmers in Sakala village of Ngorongoro District compare their two-weekly forecasts with those released by the TMA, to validate how accurate their forecast is and to come up with a consensus forecast. In the last three seasons, more than 80 percent accuracy in the findings has been witnessed.
The project is a partnership between TMA, Hakikazi Catalyst (a non-profit organization), and the UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
As meteorologists are waking up to the value of traditional forecasting methods in adapting to climate change, it seems climate change itself poses a threat to the sustainability of these methods.