Original Research

Accessing seasonal weather forecasts and drought prediction information for rural households in Chirumhanzu district, Zimbabwe

Mashoko S. Grey
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 11, No 1 | a777 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v11i1.777 | © 2019 Mashoko S. Grey | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2018 | Published: 07 October 2019

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Mashoko S. Grey, CSR Group Africa Consultancy, Harare, Zimbabwe


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Abstract

Seasonal weather forecasts and drought hazard prediction through media sources and indigenous knowledge help provide an understanding of early warning systems and the preferred source information by rural households. This article focuses on the investigation of households’ access to weather forecasts and drought hazard prediction information as early warning to reduce drought risk on livelihood activities. The study was carried out in Chirumhanzu district, and the methods used for data collection included 217 household surveys, six focus group discussions, key informants’ interviews and document review. The study found that the majority of the households in the study area had access to seasonal weather forecast information (scientific), which almost half of the respondents received through radios. However, vulnerability to climate risks was exacerbated by seasonal weather forecasts, which were deemed by some households to be unreliable, inaccurate and not easily understood. In this regard, some households used indigenous knowledge to inform them on the status of the incoming rainy season and drought prediction. The use of indigenous knowledge depended on individuals’ ability to read and decode natural indicators of seasonal weather forecast and drought prediction. Indigenous knowledge is valuable for climate science as it enhances observations and interpretations on a larger spatial scale with considerable temporal depth by highlighting elements that are measured by climate science. Both scientific weather information and indigenous knowledge are important for seasonal weather forecasting and drought prediction, especially in rural settings, and complement each other if used and availed timely to households.

Keywords

drought prediction; seasonal weather forecasts; indigenous knowledge; livelihoods; early warning system; vulnerability; hazard

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