Role of Indigenous and local knowledge in seasonal forecasts and climate adaptation: A case study of smallholder farmers in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe.
Accessible, reliable and diverse sources of climate information are needed to inform climate change adaptation at all levels of society, particularly for vulnerable sectors such as smallholder farming. Globally, many smallholder farmers use Indigenous knowledge (IK) and local knowledge (LK) to forecast weather and climate; however, less is known about how the use of these forecasts connects to decisions and actions for reducing climate risks. We examined the role of IK and LK in seasonal forecasting and the broader climate adaptation decision-making of smallholder farmers in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. The data were collected from a sample of 100 smallholder farmers. Seventy-three of the 100 interviewed farmers used IK and LK weather and climate forecasts, and 32% relied solely on IK and LK forecasts for climate adaptation decision-making. Observations of cuckoo birds, leaf-sprouting of Mopane trees, high summer temperatures, and Nimbus clouds are the main indicators used for IK and LK forecasts. The use of IK and LK climate forecasts was significantly positively associated with increasing farmer age and farmland size. Farmers using IK and LK forecasts implemented, on average, triple the number of adaptation measures compared with farmers not using IK and LK. These findings demonstrate the widespread reliance of farmers on IK and LK for seasonal forecasts, and the strong positive link between the use of IK and LK and the implementation of climate adaptation actions. This positive association between IK and LK usage and the implementation of adaptation actions may be widespread in smallholder farming communities throughout Africa and globally. Recognition and inclusion of IK and LK in climate services is important to ensure their continued potential for enhancing climate change adaptation.
Paper Link:Zvobgo, L., Johnston, P., Olagbegi, O.M., Simpson, N.P. and Trisos, C.H., 2023. Role of Indigenous and local knowledge in seasonal forecasts and climate adaptation: a case study of smallholder farmers in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe. Environmental Science & Policy, 145, pp.13-28.