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Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) 2020

Linking Drought Forecast Information to Smallholder Farmer’s Agricultural Strategies and Local Knowledge in Southern Malawi

Streefkerk, Ileen

Titre : Linking Drought Forecast Information to Smallholder Farmer’s Agricultural Strategies and Local Knowledge in Southern Malawi

Auteur : Streefkerk, Ileen

Université de soutenance : Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Grade : Master of Science in Civil Engineering 2020

Résumé partiel
Most people of Malawi are dependent on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods. This leaves them vulnerable to drought and changing rainfall patterns due to climate change. Over time, farmers have adopted local strategies and knowledge that help reducing the overall vulnerability to climate variability shocks. One other option to increase the resilience of rainfed farmers to drought, is providing forecast information on the upcoming rainfall season. Forecast information has the potential to inform farmers in their decisions surrounding agricultural strategies. However, significant challenges remain in the provision of forecast information. Often, the forecast information is not tailored to farmers, resulting in limited uptake of forecast information into their agricultural decision-making. Therefore, this study explores whether drought forecast information can be linked to existing farmers strategies and local knowledge on predicting future rainfall patterns. During a period of three months in Malawi, participatory research approaches are used to create an understanding of what requirements drought forecast information should meet to effectively inform farmers in their decision-making. Consequently, a sequential threshold model was established that relates annually monitored meteorological indicators before the rainy season, to the occurrence of dry conditions during the season. Dry conditions were expressed in the drought indicators that farmers require for their agricultural decision-making. Additionally, using interviews among stakeholders and a visualisation of the current information flow, further insights on the current drought information system were developed. Although farmers have their own strategies and timing of decision-making, this research has generalized some of the opinions and strategies to develop the ‘requirements’ which a contextualized forecast should meet. In August farmers require a prediction of the onset of the rainy season, typically starting mid-November. In addition, an update on the timing of the onset of rains is required in beginning of November. An overall indication of the ‘dryness’ of the rainy season is required in September.

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Page publiée le 18 avril 2021