Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Weather Forecasting and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Chimanimani District of Manicaland, Zimbabwe

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Weather Forecasting and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Chimanimani District of Manicaland, Zimbabwe

Article excerpt

Abstract

The study focused on how traditional knowledge is used to forecast weather in the Chimanimani District in Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe. It is the purpose of this study to show how Indigenous Knowledge Systems [IKS] have been used by rural communities to predict weather and seasonal changes in their environment. A descriptive survey was adopted using open ended questionnaires and interviews to collect information in order to assess peoples' understanding, attitudes and beliefs on the value of indigenous knowledge on weather prediction. Purposive sampling was applied to collect data from people purported to be rich in indigenous knowledge. It was found that biological, atmospheric conditions, astronomic and relief features are used to predict weather over short and long periods of time. Temperature and wind patterns were regarded as pointers to weather changes. The behaviour of animals and insects were less mentioned as useful in determining weather conditions. Human ailments such as operations were pointed out as accurate indicators of impending weather changes. Astronomic features were used to predict weather especially coming of rains within a period of about two weeks. The study notes that there is rapid disappearance of plants and animals due to climate variability and human activities. There are few elders aware of traditional methods of weather forecasting. This makes traditional weather forecast less reliable. The study concludes that both modern and traditional methods have got some positives and weaknesses and therefore can be used together to produce more comprehensive reports of weather forecasts for end users. The information on IKS is useful for end users including farmers, planners, educators, weather forecasters and Non Governmental Organisations [NGO's].Traditional leaders need to be empowered to assist in the conservation of resources in their communities. Traditional methods of weather forecasting should be part and parcel of the school curriculum at all levels of education.

Keywords: indigenous knowledge systems; weather forecasting; climate variability; traditional leaders; conservation; climate change; rain making ceremonies.

INTRODUCTION

Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) is a body of knowledge or bodies of knowledge of the indigenous people of a particular geographical area that have survived on for a very long period of time [Mapara, 2009:140]. Indigenous knowledge determines decision making in areas such as agriculture and resource management [Warren, 1991]. Indigenous/Traditional methods of weather predictions have been used since time immemorial but with the coming of modern methods of weather forecasting these traditional methods have tended to be ignored. Mhita [2006] noted that before modern methods of weather forecasting the rural communities of Tanzania observed plants, animals and birds for weather forecasting. In Burkina Faso apart from observing the behaviour of animals and plants cultural and ritual specialists use visions, dreams and divination to predict weather [Rocoli et al, 2001 cited in IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 2007]. There is therefore a need to promote these methods taking cognizance of climate change which makes modern methods less reliable especially in rural areas where there is inadequate weather forecasting instruments. There is need for research in traditional methods to compliment modern weather forecasting so as to produce more reliable and valid information for end users. In addition those people with valuable information (elders) are passing away and living organisms such as plants and animals are quickly disappearing or extinct due to climate change and overpopulation. Grace [2008] observed that global warming and recurrent droughts has resulted in extinction of both plants and animals. It has also resulted in the replacement of original plants by drought resistant ones and changes in the flowering of plants and shedding of leaves. …

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