Forecasting and coping based on things seen and heard
Indigenous peoples and local communities have developed skills to forecast and cope with environmental variability and change. These may constitute important resources for climate change adaptation. The following two projects in Kenya and Romania, which are part of the Climate Frontlines Network, investigate the continuing applicability of these skills. But first, let’s hear from a traditional rainmaker in Ikhaba village in western Kenya who provides examples of traditional indicators for forecasting weather.
"If there was a drought, then suddenly you see antelopes mating, then you must expect heavy rains within less than a week. At the same time, if you see bees migrating from north to the southern direction, then you should start preparing for drought." Ndululu Otenyo, rainmaker, Kenya (as quoted in Esipisu, 2010)
The impact of climate change on the applicability of traditional knowledge for weather forecasting, resource management and survival strategies of the pastoralist Gabbra people, northern Kenya
Community – Gabbra of Kenya, Africa
The Gabbra pastoralist communities inhabit the vast semi-arid region of northern Kenya and share an intricate relationship with their land and resources. They herd camels, cattle, sheep and goats over a harsh landscape that encompasses lava boulders and salt-covered deserts. Gabbra use seasons, phenology, astrology, entrailology (the use of animal entrails to predict the future), divining and animal behaviour to detect natural calamities and determine their course of action, and thus cope with environmental challenges. For local communities, disaster preparedness depends upon events and cycles of events that are predictable and have been encountered before. This concept is called “argaa dageeti” or things that have been seen and heard. Though pastoralists have evolved effective coping mechanisms for the long historical effects of rain failures, they have observed strange phenomena that are posing new challenges. The project, proposed by the National Museums of Kenya, seeks to research and document local observations of environmental change. In addition, they will conduct investigations on how these observations affect traditional coping strategies of the Gabbra, carry out a historical analysis of traditional early warning indicators of drought conditions and other disasters, and study how ceremonies of the Gabbra people are impacted by changes in weather and climate.
The impact of climate change on the pastoral communities of the Parang and Fagaras Mountains, Romania
Community – Pastoralists of Parang and Fagaras Mountains, Romania, Europe
Local pastoral communities in the Southern Carpathians rely on alpine and subalpine grasslands for their livelihood. Transhumance pastoralism is still practised in the mountains of Parang and Fagaras, though it is almost extinct elsewhere in Europe. The project will investigate the perceptions of these communities with regards to changes in plant phenology and distribution, with an eye to identifying the major changes that alpine and subalpine grasslands are undergoing and the effects that these changes are having on the local pastoral communities. It will also identify past methods used by these communities to cope with various temporary climatic stresses and present potential methods to adapt to and cope with climate change.