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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Burkina Faso
2012-08-13T13:09:10Z | 2012-08-13T13:09:10Z | 2001-12

This case study describes how farmers in Bonam, a village in rural Burkina Faso, predict seasonal rainfall, and, examines how their forecasts relate to scientific ones. The research shows that farmers are used to operate in multiple cognitive frameworks, though are interested in receiving scientific forecasts, given the perception that local forecasts are becoming less reliable due to increasing climate variability. However, understanding local cultural models, is essential to effectively conduct research, and develop technology. The note compares the shared knowledge, i.e., environmental indicators used locally to predict rainfall, and, that of specialized knowledge, which in contrast, is based on spiritual practices, being the prerogative of select groups. Thus, integrating local and scientific forecasts must be presented in ways that conform to cultural notions, conceiving the nature of knowledge. Findings nonetheless, suggest a convergence between local, and scientific forecasts, but also a divergence in terms of practical significance, propelling the challenge of addressing the consequences, and context of its uses: scientists, policymakers, and development practitioners should work towards devising an approach to improve the flexibility of local production systems.


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