Indigenous knowledge and modern science cooperating in a surprising field – meteorology
For nine generations millions of people across western Kenya have trusted one family of traditional rainmakers to predict local weather patterns.
Sworn to secrecy the Nganyi family is able to forecast rainfall based on subtleties in the natural world that most people would never notice or look for.
“Having this knowledge is an honor. It is very important.” says Mr Onunga, Traditional Forecaster.
“It helps people know when to prepare the land, when to sow their seeds, and because of use, they can work and always have a good harvest. It brings me great joyy, because I know I am doing something useful.”
Most people in this part of Kenya are subsistence farmers, living off small plots of land in an increasingly hostile climate.
Climate change has made forecasting more difficult, for both the traditional forecasters and modern meteorologists alike.
Through the Nganyi Indigenous Knowledge Adaptation Project, the native weathermen and the modern meteorologists are working together.
Indigenous knowledge is being integrated with modern forecasts to create a consensus forecast, which is then distributed via the traditional knowledge networks in the local communities.
The Nganyi forecasters meet with the modern forecasters seasonally to discuss their predictions and come up with a consensus, before releasing an official forecast to the public.
“I think the two sciences are equally legitimate. When we went to a meeting with the Kenya Meteorology Department, our predictions were basically the same.” says Thomas Osare, Traditional Forecaster.
“We all want to help people grow food, so instead of competing and arguing, we are marrying our energies to help people live better.”