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Weather, Climate, and Resource Information Should Meet the Needs of Sahelian Pastoralists

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  • 1 Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen K, Denmark
  • | 2 AGRHYMET Regional Centre, Niamey, Niger
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Abstract

There has been an increasing focus on providing better weather, climate, and resource information for decision making in drylands. This study explores what kind of information pastoralists in the Sahel received in 2013 and how they responded to this information. Moreover, the study assesses whether the disseminated information corresponds to the actual needs of pastoralists. The overall objective is thus to identify the outcome of providing weather, climate, and resource information to pastoralists and thereby to explore whether and how various products may guide their mobility and decision-making patterns. The results show that few of the interviewed pastoralists receive the seasonal rainfall forecasts, which have been produced since 1998 by the Climate Outlook Forum for West Africa. The pastoralists who did receive the forecasts used the information to adjust their crop cultivation strategies rather than to support livestock management decisions. To do the latter, pastoralists need information pertaining to the availability of grazing resources in various areas, the onset date of the rains, flooding events, and finescale information on rainfall amount during the first weeks of the rainy season. Such information could be used to adjust the purchase of supplementary fodder, to make qualified choices on transhumance destinations, and to make changes in herd composition. As pastoralists primarily acquire this information by calling friends and family in nearby areas, the results point to a strong disconnect between the parameters and scale of information that pastoralists need and those currently provided.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Laura Vang Rasmussen, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark. E-mail: lr@ign.ku.dk

Abstract

There has been an increasing focus on providing better weather, climate, and resource information for decision making in drylands. This study explores what kind of information pastoralists in the Sahel received in 2013 and how they responded to this information. Moreover, the study assesses whether the disseminated information corresponds to the actual needs of pastoralists. The overall objective is thus to identify the outcome of providing weather, climate, and resource information to pastoralists and thereby to explore whether and how various products may guide their mobility and decision-making patterns. The results show that few of the interviewed pastoralists receive the seasonal rainfall forecasts, which have been produced since 1998 by the Climate Outlook Forum for West Africa. The pastoralists who did receive the forecasts used the information to adjust their crop cultivation strategies rather than to support livestock management decisions. To do the latter, pastoralists need information pertaining to the availability of grazing resources in various areas, the onset date of the rains, flooding events, and finescale information on rainfall amount during the first weeks of the rainy season. Such information could be used to adjust the purchase of supplementary fodder, to make qualified choices on transhumance destinations, and to make changes in herd composition. As pastoralists primarily acquire this information by calling friends and family in nearby areas, the results point to a strong disconnect between the parameters and scale of information that pastoralists need and those currently provided.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Laura Vang Rasmussen, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark. E-mail: lr@ign.ku.dk
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