Ethno-meteorology and scientific weather forecasting: small farmers and scientists’ perspectives on climate variability in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Kolawole, Oluwatoyin D.
RightsThis is an open access article under the Creative Commons License 3.0
MetadataShow full item record
Recent trends in abrupt weather changes continue to pose a challenge to agricultural production most especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The paper specifically addresses the questions on how local farmers read and predict the weather; and how they can collaborate with weather scientists in devising adaptation strategies for climate variability (CV) in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Recent trends in agriculture-related weather variables available from country’s climate services, as well as in freely available satellite rainfall products were analysed. The utility of a seasonal hydrological forecasting system for the study area in the context of supporting farmer’s information needs were assessed. Through a multi-stage sampling procedure, a total of 592 households heads in 8 rural communities in the Okavango Delta were selected and interviewed using open and close-ended interview schedules. Also, 19 scientists were purposively selected and interviewed using questionnaires. Key informant interviews, focus group and knowledge validation workshops were used to generate qualitative information from both farmers and scientists. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used in summarising the data. Analysis of satellite rainfall products indicated that there was a consistent increase in total annual rainfall throughout the region in the last 10 years, accompanied by an increase in number of rain days, and reduction of duration of dry spells. However, there is a progressive increase in the region’s temperatures leading to increase in potential evaporation. Findings from social surveys show that farmers’ age, education level, number of years engaged in farming, sources of weather information, knowledge of weather forecasting and decision on farming practices either had a significant relationship or correlation with their perceptions about the nature of both local [ethno-meteorological] and scientific weather knowledge. Nonetheless, there was a significant difference in the mean scores of farmers in relation to their perceptions and those of the climate scientists about the nature of both local and Western knowledge. As farmers are adept at judging seasonal patterns through long-standing ethno-meteorology, one major CV adaptation measure is their ability to anticipate changes in future weather conditions, which enables them to adjust their farming calendars and make decisions on crop type selection in any given season.
- Research articles (ORI)