Making climate services accessible and relevant to farmers and pastoralists in Tanzania

By Jeanne Coulibaly and Joash Mango

Edited by Susan Onyango

Jeanne Coulibaly (front left) and Joash Mango (first person, back row) with enumerators during their training. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

Jeanne Coulibaly (front left) and Joash Mango (first person, back row) with enumerators during their training. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

Climate services represent invaluable tools to help farmers to adapt to increased frequency of climate uncertainty. To assess the value and usefulness of climate services to farmers and pastoralists, the CGIAR Research Program on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS) is leading the research-based monitoring and evaluation component of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) programme in Tanzania. Monitoring and evaluation will determine the extent to which the programme enhances farmers’ and pastoralists’ access to climate services, as well as influences their decision-making to improve their livelihood and resilience to climate change.

The first step in monitoring and evaluation is a baseline study to identify benchmark indicators on access, use and needs of climate services against which changes in the programme outcomes will be measured.

Ahead of the commencement of the programme, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and CCAFS organized a four-day training for 10 enumerators on baseline tools and a survey for data collection. This will measure the use and needs for climate information and agricultural advisories at the current “baseline” level. The data will be used to define indicators to inform activities and evaluate how successful the programme has been in impacting decision making at household and community levels.

Jeanne Coulibaly, an agricultural economist at ICRAF, and Joash Mango, a senior research technician at CCAFS conducted the training at ICRAF’s office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in September 2014.

“The purpose of the training was to adapt the survey tool to the local context of the farmers’ decision-making, as well as to hone the ability of the enumerators to understand the content of the questionnaire and administer it to local farmers,” said Coulibaly. “Indeed, one of the CGIAR-CCAFS monitoring and evaluation goals is to develop context driven and culturally relevant survey instruments to evaluate the impact of climate services for farmers. The survey tools include an individual household questionnaire and key informants survey guide.”

The training covered the study purpose, an in-depth review of the baseline survey tools, a pre-test of the questionnaires and de-briefs to unravel any remaining challenges in administering the survey tools.

During the review of the questionnaires, the enumerators were helped to translate some questions and key words into Kiswahili from English. This is because the questions are written in English but are administered to the interviewees in Kiswahili and the answers recorded in English. Enumerators were also paired up simulate field interviews. This exercise was greatly appreciated by the enumerators because it equipped them with the correct wording of some terminologies and questions in Kiswahili and clarified unclear questions. In order to have a culturally relevant questionnaire, it was suggested that enumerators place more emphasis on pastoralist activities. For example, disaggregation of the type of livestock (small and large) to inform livestock management decisions will be well suited to the targeted regions given the importance of pastoralism in these areas.

An enumerator with a respondent, preparing to administer a questionnaire. Photo: Joash Mango

An enumerator with a respondent, preparing to administer a questionnaire. Photo: Joash Mango

The baseline survey was carried out in Kiteto and Longido districts for a period of 12 days by a team comprising the 10 enumerators and two supervisors from ICRAF in Tanzania. The main activities in these two semi-arid districts are subsistence farming and pastoralism. Other partners in the GFCS, the World Food Organisation (WFP) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), have planned activities within the districts. The team met the district officers to explain the purpose of the study, identify control sites (sites where no activities will be carried out over the course of the project) and obtain approvals to carry out the survey. In the villages, the field team had to rely on local translators because most of the elderly households heads only speak the Maasai language.

The individual household survey was administered to household heads in the presence of the extended family members. This is one major of the characteristics of the Maasai households. The household head will only answer questions in the presence of other family members. Interjections and comments from family members meant that it took more time than planned to administer the questionnaires. The team reviewed questionnaires daily and took advantage of their time in the villages to clarify any outstanding issues and make corrections as needed.

Data is being analyzed and will be used to inform national partners on the needs of farmers and pastoralists for climate services in Tanzania.

“Preliminary findings of the survey show that majority of farming households interviewed rely on indigenous knowledge on climate forecasts to inform their crop and livestock management decisions. They also trust information delivered by the well-established network of government extension agents,” she added. “Scientific information is inaccessible to farmers as it is often channeled through radio. Coverage is still poor in these two districts. Further, the information is not relevant for household decision-making as it is not disaggregated at village scale and is not timely. Unfortunately it is not considered to be credible by rural communities.”

Some recommendations to inform the design of partners’ interventions include:

  • Training government extension agents in understanding climate forecasts and relying on them to deliver information to farmers will be critical to the success of the programme
  • It is important to use and value farmers’ indigenous knowledge for climate and weather predictions
  • It is essential to integrate indigenous knowledge with scientific climate forecast to enhance relevance of climate information for local communities
  • Radio is an effective means of delivering climate information where there is network coverage
  • Timely and accurate climate services are essential for farmers and pastoralists decision-making regarding management of their livestock and crops
  • Use of social networks and letters present a practical and scalable means to deliver climate information from the national meteorological service for village leaders and end-users in areas with poor access to ICT infrastructure
  • Context specific climate information makes services more relevant and credible to farmers

For more on the Global Framework for Climate Services, please click here.

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