Friday, March 26, 2010

Climate change affecting Kenyan rainmakers' predictions

Kevin James Moore in via MediaGlobal: Indigenous people in western Kenya have relied on the mystical abilities of the Nganyi rainmakers to predict the weather for generations. However, the erratic weather caused by climate change has made the signs rainmakers need for their forecast opaque. The Nganyi rainmakers have begun collaborating with meteorologists, combining their indigenous knowledge with modern science, to help them make more accurate weather forecast for the communities that depend on their advice.

"The rainmakers' predictions are based on close observation of natural phenomena, like the budding or flowering of specific plant species and the behavior of local insects and animals, associated with seasonal changes," Mary O'Neill of Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) told MediaGlobal. "As weather patterns have become erratic in their community in recent years, the Nganyi have been finding that these 'indicator' species are less and less reliable."

"Climate change has come so fast," said Obedi Osore, a traditional forecaster filmed in the CCAA's video Nganyi Indigenous Knowledge Adaptation Project. "People don't know how to adapt. Our traditional crops are disappearing because they can't handle the new conditions." Osore explained, "We need new strategies to handle the climate change issue."

The Kenya Meteorology Department is adding its scientific knowledge to the traditional knowledge of the Nganyi, in a project lead by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) to provide more reliable information for communities at risk from climate change. The CCAA is supporting the project and sees this as a "valuable opportunity to explore how climate information can be made more accessible and relevant to rural people whose livelihoods depend on it," said O'Neill. "People in many parts of rural Africa look to indigenous knowledge forecasters to tell them what the rains will bring, and how to prepare."…

Surrounding hills of Kapsowar with Mt. Kipkinurr in background, shot by Masai29

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