Indigenous past climate knowledge as cultural built-in object andiIts accuracy

Leclerc Christian, Mwongera Caroline Njeri, Camberlin Pierre, Boyard-Micheau Joseph. 2013. Indigenous past climate knowledge as cultural built-in object andiIts accuracy. Ecology and Society, 18 (4):22, 13 p.

Journal article ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact Revue en libre accès total
Published version - Anglais
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Quartile : Q1, Sujet : ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES / Quartile : Q2, Sujet : ECOLOGY

Abstract : In studying indigenous climate knowledge, two approaches can be envisioned. In the first, traditional knowledge is a cultural built-in object; conceived as a whole, its relevance can be assessed by referring to other cultural, economic, or technical components at work within an indigenous society. In the second, the accuracy of indigenous climate knowledge is assessed with western science knowledge used as an external reference. However, assessing the accuracy of indigenous climate knowledge remains a largely untapped area. We aim to show how accurate the culturally built indigenous climate knowledge of extreme climatic events is, and how amenable it is to fuzzy logic. A retrospective survey was carried out individually and randomly among 195 Eastern African farmers on climatic reasons for loss of on-farm crop diversity from 1961 to 2006. More than 3000 crop loss events were recorded, and reasons given by farmers were mainly related to droughts or heavy rainfall. Chi-square statistics computed by Monte Carlo simulations based on 999 replicates clearly rejected independence between indigenous knowledge of drought and heavy rainfall that occurred in the past and rainfall records. The fuzzy logic nature of indigenous climatic knowledge appears in the clear association of drought or heavy rainfall events, as perceived by farmers, with corresponding extreme rainfall values, contrasting with a fuzzy picture in the intermediate climatic situations. We discuss how the cultural built-in knowledge helps farmers in perceiving and remembering past climate variations, considering the specificity of the contexts where extreme climatic events were experienced. The integration of indigenous and scientific climate knowledge could allow development of drought monitoring that considers both climatic and contextual data. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Climatologie, Connaissance indigène, Perceptions, Conditions météorologiques, Communauté rurale, Sécheresse, Perte à la récolte, Précipitation, Enquête, Agriculteur

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Afrique orientale

Classification Agris : P40 - Meteorology and climatology
E50 - Rural sociology
000 - Autres thèmes

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 1 (2005-2013) - Intensification écologique

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Leclerc Christian, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR AGAP (FRA)
  • Mwongera Caroline Njeri, Montpellier SupAgro (FRA)
  • Camberlin Pierre, CRC (FRA)
  • Boyard-Micheau Joseph, CRC (FRA)

Source : Cirad - Agritrop (

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