Consensus forecasts: integrating indigenous knowledge with scientific weather and climate information to strengthen resilience to climate change.

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

Climate change is having an impact on climate extremes in East and West Africa. Despite the large volume of climate and weather observational and modelled data, in indigenous communities in Burkina Faso, traditional weather forecasting still remains one of the main accessible and trusted sources of weather and climate information, due to a lack of usable and timely scientific climate information. The UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) as well NGOs and government bodies recognises the value of local observation systems and complementary frameworks for analysing weather and climate phenomenon, but have not been able to move towards using such frameworks as means to better communicate science derived or informed forecasts. The purpose of this project is for social science researchers to work with the Met Office to develop a set of tools, address a knowledge gap and document institutional best practices in reaching a consensus forecast to strengthen local communities' resilience to climate change.

Recognising the importance of community based, collectively held indigenous knowledge and practices importance, the Met Office has compiled a data set of existing traditional forecasting practices in northern Burkina Faso (Gallo and Henley, 2017) as partners of the Zaman Lebidi Burkina Faso BRACED (Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters) project. A brief qualitative analysis of this dataset has been realised but further work is needed to understand the use of the different indicators in communicating scientific climate information.

This placement allows the expertise of King's College London (KCL) to assist the Met Office to place data on indigenous knowledge and forecast indicators in the socioeconomic and cultural context in order to make it useful and relevant for the climate scientists. The goal is to develop a tool, a participatory approach and best practices materials based on this work in Burkina Faso which can then be used by the Met Office in other areas and for work with other National Meteorological Services (NMS). The researchers will assist the Met Office in identifying the most useful and relevant indigenous indicators to highlight their importance and potential application as part of a process of co-production of a local "consensus forecast", a way to combine indigenous and scientific climate and weather information so that local rural populations can make informed decisions and achieve better livelihoods. The researchers will also document the evolving relationship between formal and informal institutions (e.g. the Met Office, NMS, communities and academia) through the lens of bricolage (Cleaver, 2012).

The partnership between KCL and the Met Office is a way of applying social science research to help climate scientists make full use of available resources, contextualise them at local scales and integrate participatory approaches. The research will also look at potential future research needs that could be addressed through future NERC research. This could strengthen and improve long-term relationship between KCL and the Met Office.
A potential outcome of this research is the identification of new ways of efficiently collaborating with NMS and a replicable process for creating consensus forecasts. The project will be further supported by a Climate Information Communication specialist to ensure relevance of the project at all steps and will be part of KCIRR (King's Centre for Integrated Research on Risk Resilience) hub to ensure that the links with the host organisation are embedded within the University to maximise the potential of continuing interactions.

References:

Gallo and Henley, Indigenous indicators used for seasonal forecasts in northern Burkina Faso, BRACED Zaman Lebidi Report, UK Met Office, 2017

Cleaver, F 2012, Development through bricolage: rethinking institutions for natural resource management. Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Mossi Forecasts: Reading Weather in Burkina Faso 
Description In order to catalyse the necessary shift in perception of other knowledge systems by scientists, we collaborated with an artist to produce a visual oral history of Mossi knowledge which captured personal testimonies of how people read weather and climate. This collaboration aimed to capture intimate testimonies of changes in climate and use documentary techniques to explore people's relationship with nature in Northern Burkina Faso, documenting part of an oral culture that has been highly under-investigated. In parallel with the Innovation Placement project, the artist and researchers went to Burkina Faso and carried out research while filming interviews and landscapes to provide a tangible and visual understanding of climate change in rural West Africa to a wider public. The work produced acts as an advocacy piece to promote a greater appreciation of local and tacit knowledge, which is frequently considered inferior, secondary or irrelevant when compared to scientific knowledge. We hope that our work will engage audiences (scientists, artists and the general public) in such a way that they begin to reassess this hierarchy of knowledge, particularly in the light of climate change and how we respond to its challenges. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact The use of documentary techniques and resulting short film provided direct and accessible insights into Burkinabe culture and local knowledge systems. This was used to catalyse a discussion with UK Met Office scientists around science as a dominant world view and the value of other knowledge systems. Outputs: A blog available at: https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/geography/2018/08/02/tales-of-co-production-twelve-days-of-research-and-filming-in-burkina-faso/ A formal presentation of the short film, followed by a Q&A and discussion with a mixed audience of general public, academics and artists at Somerset House, January 2019, which included a short interview and podcast, available from Somerset House Studios website. 
URL https://youtu.be/dYhUVG1K7p4
 
Description (500 words)
The key findings from this research are:
- Mossi agropastolists in Northern Burkina Faso (Passoré) embrace conceptual pluralism when making decisions about their livelihoods. They base their decisions on different sources of information drawn from a rich traditional knowledge system embedded in local institutions, values and beliefs as well as scientific forecast from radio broadcasts.
- Farming households are constantly monitoring a large number of variables related to weather and climate over time through their daily interaction with their immediate environment. This enables farmers to perceive changes in patterns of rainfall and droughts which allows them to adapt their livelihood strategies to these changes.
- Mossi knowledge on climate and weather is apparent as both a specialist knowledge available to particular people (elders, initiates) and as a tacit knowledge that crosses social, gendered and age boundaries.

The research applied a method known as Council to address power dynamics in sharing knowledge on climate and weather. The techniques used in this method provided equal weighting to different knowledge by encouraging authentic speech and engaged listening from all the participants. The researchers also explored the possibility of applying of contextualised form of theatre forum (debate theatre) to support co-production of indigenous and scientific climate and weather information.

The importance of tacit knowledge on weather and climate in Burkina Faso led to a preliminary investigation of this type of knowledge in the UK. The researchers have been in dialogue with an expert of UK indigenous knowledge to explore this knowledge's potential in monitoring and adapting to climate change, for example, providing vital information in early warning systems. They have also engaged with a different range of stakeholders including local government, resilience officers and scientists from the Met Office to seek further funding to expand this research.

The project has helped to keep indigenous knowledge on Met Office's agenda by providing new insights and data on local climate and weather predictions. This interest can clearly be seen in the number of co-developed grant applications on the subject (NERC, UKRI, British Academy) as well as a focus on indigenous knowledge in other UK Met-led projects (WISER). The project has also helped identify further expertise within the UK Met Office on indigenous knowledge. The project also helped create discussion around different systems and re-evaluate the importance of local knowledge systems. The use of documentary techniques and resulting short film provided direct and accessible insights into Burkinabe culture and local knowledge systems for varied audiences, helping to convey the culturally embedded nature and value of indigenous knowledge.
Exploitation Route One key research output is an academic paper, written in collaboration with the UK Met Office, which includes a set of guidelines to encourage met services globally to engage with indigenous knowledge.
Through our preliminary exploration of local knowledge in the UK, our research could provide new insights into how indigenous knowledge on weather and climate forecasting can provide new perspective in building sustainable adaptation strategies, for example improving early warning systems.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://youtu.be/dYhUVG1K7p4
 
Description The project has helped to keep indigenous knowledge on Met Office's agenda by providing new insights and data on local climate and weather predictions. This interest can clearly be seen in the number of co-developed grant applications on the subject (NERC, UKRI, British Academy) as well as a focus on indigenous knowledge in other UK Met-led projects (WISER). The project has also helped identify further expertise within the UK Met Office on indigenous knowledge. The project also helped create discussion around different systems and re-evaluate the importance of local knowledge systems. Further grants could explore the potential of indigenous knowledge in climate adaptation strategies. The short film was used to provide direct and accessible insights into Burkinabe culture and local knowledge systems for varied audiences, helping to convey the culturally embedded nature and value of indigenous knowledge. In Burkina Faso, the project's methodologies (Council, documentary techniques) helped people realise the value of their own local knowledge and facilitated an exchange of this knowledge between local users.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description King's College London X Somerset House Studios
Amount £6,000 (GBP)
Funding ID DAR3110 
Organisation King's College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Description Consensus forecasts: integrating indigenous knowledge with scientific weather and climate information to strengthen resilience to climate change 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This research project was based on a collaboration between King's College London (KCL) and the UK Met Office, taking the form of an Innovation Placement. This enabled King's social scientist researchers to use their expertise to analyse, deepen and appropriately frame a database on indigenous knowledge previously collected by Met Office climate scientists. KCL research team did a review of the existing data and literature, using that to frame the data collection and direct the analysis. The researchers had access to the data and through continuous conversations with the Met scientists developed methods and framework for analysis. They collected the data following KCL ethics procedures and carried out analysis, leading on the drafting of one policy brief and one academic paper (forthcoming). To discuss and enrich the collected data and inform the academic paper, a formal workshop was held at the Met Office in October 2018. The aim was to present the research findings and create a space for discussion where scientific and local knowledge systems were equally valued. This was particularly important due to the UK Met Office scientists' inability to travel to Burkina Faso for security reasons; researchers were able to act as knowledge brokers.
Collaborator Contribution The UK Met gave made accessible to King's researchers a data set on indigenous indicators. They also ensured that two climate scientists, Edmund Henley and Florian Gallo had enough time and space to support the researchers. They provided context for the database and constant advice on research design and approaches. They helped identify ways of overcoming issues in working with Burkina Met services. Their expertise contributed practically to framing the research questions in taking into account the climate science aspects of the research. Edmund and Flo also contributed to the policy brief and the academic paper, providing insights, opinion and conceptual contributions. Working alongside the UK Met Office during this project has enabled frequent informal spaces to discuss, compare and contrast research findings and create opportunities for co-production.
Impact Policy Brief titled "Interactions between local and scientific knowledge systems for weather and climate services" March 2018 Academic paper, being finalised.
Start Year 2017
 
Description CIRRR meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The researchers presented findings and showed the related short film to a meeting of the Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience, a research hub at King's College London bringing together students (undegrad, masters, PhDs), academics and the guests. One meeting was held in September 2018 and involved a mixed audience of students and academics from different Universities (King's, Southampton, UCL, SOAS, University of Sussex), practitioners from NGOs based in the UK, South Africa and France (South South North, CIRAD, CARE), research institutes (IRD) and UK research councils (NERC, UKRI). The goal was to discuss research findings and contextualise them in the broader context of co-production. We had rich informal discussion and requests for further information and involvement, including collaborations on further grants on co-production of knowledge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/research/cirrr
 
Description Research Network for the Geography department (King's College London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The researchers presented preliminary findings from academic research at a Geography department Research meeting, talking over a selection of footage (no audio). The researchers reflected on both the nature of the findings and the collaboration with UK Met Office scientists and the documentarist. This led to informal discussions with students and colleagues, some feedback and ideas for further grants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Somerset House Studios Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Somerset House organised a showcase in January 2019 for the artist-academic project teams who worked together in 2018 to research and develop new critical perspectives on contemporary culture and society. Our project was featured in that evening. The event was attended by a mixed audience including postgraduate and undergraduate students from King's College London, general public, artists and academics from various disciplines. They artist and researchers had been previously interviewed and a short clip with their answers and behind the scenes footage was shown to introduce the project. This was followed by a Q&A session allowing the artist and the researchers to share thoughts on both the collaboration and the findings as well as on tools and methods. A podcast was also made available from Somerset House Studios website. A screen was set up to show the short film throughout the evening, so that participants could watch and ask questions informally during breaks and networking time. This was publicised through Somerset House Studios and King's Cultural Institute websites.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/events/event-story?id=e3c4cc80-aa76-449b-bc94-39bbb3d11c46
 
Description UK Met Office workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Following data collection and having had time to go through the data, start the analysis while, in parallel, having a rough cut of the short film made in collaboration with a documentarists, the researchers initiated a formal workshop, held at the Met Office in October 2018. The team wanted to present the research findings, both in a classic presentation and through the rough cut of the short film, and create a space for discussion where scientific and local knowledge systems were equally valued. This was particularly important due to the UK Met Office scientists' inability to travel to Burkina Faso for security reasons; researchers were able to act as knowledge brokers. Moreover, the researchers aimed to get different views on the collected data, framework for analysis and the paper's argument; this was key in validating research with the UK Met scientists and laying the ground for further collaboration on a paper.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018