The Role of Rainfall Information in Farmers' Decisions: Ethnographic Research in the Mossi Plateau (Namentenga Province)
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This research seeks to understand how both institutions and farm household in the arid Shel-Soudan (SS) Region, West Africa can together use seasonal precipitation forecasting influenced by ENSO to improve the rain-fed agricultural production systems of farm households and thus the security of their livelihoods. The research also identifies and recommends points of entry and appropriate modalities for introducing scientific predictions into the region in ways that positively affect quality of life and environmental sustainability. The dynamic interconnection of climate, ecosystem, land use and economic strategies in the SS, where agricultural production systems center around rain-fed cultivation of staple crops and are characterized by a low level of technological development, has been well documented. Under any circumstances, agriculture in the SS is an inherently high-risk low-return endeavor. Burkina Faso was chosen as the SS country in which to focus research activities because it encompasses several agro ecological zones characteristic of the region; its climate, like that of the SS Region, has been linked to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon; it has a strong national research organization and university; the research team members have directly relevant experience there and collaborative relationships. The research objectives include: 1. Determining the state of the art in seasonal precipitation forecasting in SS relating to possibilities in terms of lead times, accuracy, and presentation of forecasts the various kinds of institutions and groups; 2. Developing a better understanding of the information systems of relevant institutions and non governmental organizations (NGO) to determine how best to introduce weather forecasts in their programmatic planning and implementation; 3. Assessing how scientific forecasts can be introduced in ways that improve livelihood security among farm households living in different agro-ecological zones and engaged in different survival strategies; 4. Conducting a workshop in Burkino Faso to present and refine research results, and facilitate flow of information among relevant institutions and representatives of farming communities; and extrapolating research results to the rest of the SS.