Unpacking the Functionality of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKSs) in Weather Forecasting in Turwi Basin, Zimbabwe

Enock C. Makwara


Turwi Basin, whose primary source of livelihood is agriculture, straddles the two contiguous districts of Bikita and Zaka, south-east Masvingo Province, southern Zimbabwe. The greater part of the basin covers a drought-prone to dry agro-ecological region. Weather forecasting and the dissemination of weather information is done by the Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe, however, changing weather patterns are affecting weather forecasting reliability yet there are few weather stations in the basin while few households have access to weather forecast information. Gained through a long period of observation of the environment by local people, indigenous weather forecasting knowledge is site-specific, cheap and can fill in the gap that is left by scientific forecasting. The research study sought to identify the different indigenous weather forecasting knowledge indicators used in the basin and the role IKSs play in guiding farmers in agricultural planning. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods were used to collect primarily qualitative data which were subsequently analysed using the thematic approach. Results show that weather forecasting IKSs are well-known in the basin and a majority of the basin farmers depend on them for planning their agricultural activities. IKSs can be integrated with scientific weather forecasting to provide more accurate forecast information to the subsistence basin farmers thus helping them plan their activities and possibly improve food security therein. Validation of indigenous knowledge against scientific knowledge should be done over a long period of time. There is need to document IKS and teach it to young people as currently it is the preserve of older generation.

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