African Pastoralism, Climate Science and Adaptation Policy

November 2011

Multi-stakeholder Collaboration to Reinforce Adaptation Opportunities for African Pastoral Indigenous Peoples

Event Announcement

Date: 2 December 2011, Friday

Time: 8:15pm to 9:45pm

Venue: Levubu River, Durban Exhibition Centre

Climate Frontlines is pleased to announce the following side event on Multi-stakeholder Collaboration to Reinforce Adaptation Opportunities for African Pastoral Indigenous Peoples at the UN Climate Conference at Durban 2011.

In support of the Cancun Adaptation Framework, the Chadian Ministry of Urban and Rural Hydrology, the Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) are convening a multi-stakeholder dialogue on climatic change, local knowledge and African pastoral indigenous peoples. How can meteorologists, indigenous peoples and policy-makers jointly reinforce national and regional adaptation policy and practice?

A welcome address will be delivered by his Excellency General General Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour, Minister of Urban and Rural Hydrology, Chad. Chaired by Douglas Nakashima of Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems, UNESCO, the session includes a video and report on the outcomes of the N’Djamena Conference 2011.

The event is organized by the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee in cooperation with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Conservation International, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD).

November 2011

N’Djamena Declaration on Adaptation to Climate Change, Indigenous Pastoralism, Traditional Knowledge and Meteorology in Africa

Indigenous representatives from five African countries (Chad, Niger, Kenya, Namibia and South Africa) attended a two-day conference in N’Djamena Chad to consider with meteorologists how traditional knowledge of pastoralism and atmospheric science can be combined to respond to current climate change risks. The conference reflected on the need for effective participation of indigenous peoples, including herders, in national adaptation platforms and other national processes to ensure peace, sustainable livelihoods and biological conservation in the face of worsening climate instability. The conference was hosted by the Association des Femmes Peules Autochtones du Tchad (AFPAT) and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC).

Key findings included:

  • Traditional knowledge and climate science are both critically important for adaptation policy and for supporting resilience building of rural communities in order to cope with climate change;
  • Traditional knowledge and climate science need to be shared to create synergies that can inform adaptation policy, monitoring and assessment. It is through a combination of both knowledge systems that we achieve better synchronisation between forecasting, anticipatory responses, appropriate governance responses and feed-back. Both knowledge systems need to be converted into media that is understandable and usable in national adaptation platforms and for public use;
  • Climate change amplifies social and economic vulnerability, with the risk of serious conflict and poverty. An indispensable element of climate adaptation is ensuring good governance, human rights and social equity to maintain local, national and regional harmony during times of stress;
  • The United Nations’ Cancún Adaptation Framework, the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) may be best effective through well designed and funded national adaptation platforms;
  • National adaptation platforms need to include a diverse range of rural and urban communities, with particular attention to participatory approaches to facilitate the contributions of pastoralists, hunter-gathers, farmers and fisherfolk.
  • National adaptation platforms need to facilitate a two-way flow of ideas, information and strategies for resilience building and equitable sharing of costs and benefits. The inputs to and outputs from the platforms need to be meaningful and relevant.

Indigenous peoples’ delegates worked with the National Meteorological Services of Chad, the Chadian National Centre for Support to Research (CNAR), international agencies, including the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) – Small Grants Projects, and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA). The results of the workshop were shared with the Honourable Minister of Urban and Rural Hydrology, and the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation of the Republic of Chad.

Results of High Level Round Table on Pastoralism, Traditional Knowledge, Meteorology and Implementation of Policies of Climate Change Adaptation

9 November 2011

Following the two-day conference on adaptation, a high level panel of two Chadian Ministers and representatives of national and international expert technical agencies contributed to a round table dialogue on adaptation and pastoralism.

His Excellency, the national Minister of Urban and Rural Hydrology, General Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour noted that:

  • Adaptation requires recognition of the facts of climate change and vulnerability, and should draw on both science and traditional knowledge to find appropriate responses;
  • Scientific interaction with pastoralists is important for Chad. We are facing policy challenges in a wide range of domains, including the environment, land use, water management, and changes to the overall climate. Increased risks of conflict must be avoided through effective policy making and full participation of the concerned communities, notably pastoralists;
  • Africa needs to develop adequate policies and deployment of financial resources to overcome the constraints and ensure a robust and inclusive planning and evaluation process;
  • Atmospheric sciences allow forecasting of weather and seasonal patterns. Efforts need to be made in a timely manner to share this information with those concerned;
  • Financing is an important element in building the national adaptation platforms. International solidarity, whether in expertise or financing remains very valuable for Least Developed Countries.

His Excellency, the national Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, the Honourable Dr Djime Adoum noted that:

  • Traditional knowledge must be included in science because it is itself a form of science;
  • Local and traditional varieties of crops are emerging as more resistant and less demanding in terms of husbandry;
  • Most food production systems, farming, pastoralism and fishing in the country are still run at subsistence levels – this reality needs to shape policy making;
  • The introduction of improved, new or hybrid varieties require additional inputs, such as more water or fertilisers, which has cost implications for communities;
  • Innovative information communication technologies (ICTs) will be used to capture and document local knowledge in the framework of the project;
  • National budgetary procedures need to take into consideration the inter-sectoral impact of climate change, and ensure early planning for adaptation. It is not wise to wait until a crisis unfolds before looking for resources to address it.

The conference was closed by His Excellency, General Mahamat Ali Abdallah Nassour, Minister of Urban and Rural Hydrology. The Minister noted the valuable work which had been done by the delegates and looked forward to the presentation of the results at the 17th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, due to take place in Durban, South Africa from 28 November until 10 December, 2011.

The full N'Djamena declaration can be found here.

The full report of the N’Djamena conference can be downloaded from

June 2011

Linking Indigenous & Scientific Knowledge Systems for Weather Forecasting and Policy Response in Africa

Bonn, Germany: When faced with unexpected weather events, pastoralists have to take decisions that may have impacts on their cultures, livelihoods and relationships with other neighbouring communities. During periods of drought, Mbororo pastoralists have to adapt by changing the composition of their herds or travelling longer distances, sometimes in excess of 1000 kilometres, in search of pasture. The decision to move cattle across landscapes can trigger problems with farmers who are also facing weather stress. A particularly severe weather event can also lead to long-term changes, including the shift towards agro-pastoralism and inclusion of more dromedaries in a herd, which was seen in Tuareg communities after the 1972 drought in Niger. Presenting this information during a side-event at the recent UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim and Aboubakir Alabachir, representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), brought into context the dependence of pastoralists on weather and the need for user-friendly climate information.

Indigenous and local knowledge form primary sources of decision-making and scientific weather forecasts and can help increase the resilience of communities to unpredictable weather events and seasonal patterns, especially in an era of heightened uncertainty brought about by climate change. Likewise, the information held by local communities, which can describe site-specific weather phenomena ranging over large areas and time scales, has the potential to enrich scientific forecasting. In his introductory remarks, Douglas Nakashima, the UNESCO panel chair stated that indigenous knowledge, as much as scientific knowledge, has the potential to provide necessary and valuable contributions to global knowledge repositories on climate change such as the Climate Change Knowledge Base, a UN cross-cutting initiative led by the UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) .

Scientific information, however, is seldom presented in a manner that can be confidently used by communities. Dr Shivakumar of WMO presented an initiative called Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), which aims to strengthen the application of climate services at multiple levels. He highlighted the fact that even though there was agreement on the need to connect knowledge and world views of scientists and local communities, implementing this on the ground was a challenge. Acknowledging that much work still needs to be done, he proposed the idea of scaling up the discussions of the side event to an international workshop on traditional and scientific forecasting, and invited both UNESCO and IPACC to engage with the User Interface Platform of the GFCS. This synergy was further encouraged and supported by the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), represented at the side-event by Cheikh Kane.

Johnson Cerda, Conservation International, highlighted the positive impact of effective dialogue between both the traditional knowledge holders and the scientists on adaptation policy, referring the panel to the principles outlined in the Cancun Adaptation Framework.

The presentations were followed by an open discussion. Participants debated the importance of documenting and acknowledging the crucial value of local and indigenous knowledge as a basis upon which critical livelihood decisions are made by communities, while stressing the need for the knowledge holders themselves to set the framework for how such documentation is carried out.

Organized by IPACC and UNESCO, the side event also saw the launch of a joint initiative between IPACC, UNESCO, ACMAD, WMO and CI. Following the panel presentations, a representative of the government of Chad, Mr Moussa Tchitchaou, Director of Water Resources and Meteorology in the Ministry of Water and Focal Point for the UNFCCC, formally announced a workshop that would be held in Ndjamena, 7-9 September 2011. The workshop would bring together a larger group of pastoralists and meteorologists representing several African countries to further expand discussions of the themes raised during the side event.

Panel presentations:

1. Hindou Oumarou, IPACC
2. Aboubakir Alabachir, IPACC
3. Mannava Shivakumar, WMO
4. Johnson Cerda, CI

May 2011

Adaptation and African Pastoralism: Linking Indigenous & Scientific Knowledge Systems for Weather Forecasting and Policy Response

Event Announcement

Climate Frontlines is pleased to announce the following side event on Adaptation and African Pastoralism: Linking Indigenous & Scientific Knowledge Systems for Weather Forecasting and Policy Response at the UN Climate Conference, Bonn 2011.

Can weather forecasting and climate policy in Africa be made more effective by linking indigenous pastoralists’ knowledge and meteorological science? IPACC & UNESCO organize a panel bringing together perspectives from different knowledge systems and cultural
frameworks towards enhancing adaptation, biodiversity, livelihoods and food security.

We discuss how climate service providers can collaborate with pastoralists to provide information that would enable local pastoralists to make appropriate decisions for adaptation based on long-term, scientific weather forecasts. We also discuss the potential applications of pastoralist knowledge, which provides site-specific, long-term and longrange data necessary for the creation of more locally accurate weather forecasts.

This is the first event of a multi-stakeholder collaboration that investigates ways to anchor adaptation policy within both science and traditional knowledge, in line with the principles of the Cancun Adaptation Framework.