Vol. 116 No. 1 (2022)
Research Papers

The Relevance and Practices of Indigenous Weather Forecasting Knowledge among the Gabra Pastoralists of Southern Ethiopia

Dejene Alemayehu
Institute of Indigenous Studies, Dilla University, Dilla, Ethiopia
Yetebarek Hizekeal
Institute of Indigenous Studies, Dilla University, Dilla, Ethiopia

Published 2022-06-30


  • Indigenous knowledge,
  • Weather forecasting,
  • Gabra pastoralist,
  • Ethiopia

How to Cite

Alemayehu, D., & Hizekeal, Y. (2022). The Relevance and Practices of Indigenous Weather Forecasting Knowledge among the Gabra Pastoralists of Southern Ethiopia . Journal of Agriculture and Environment for International Development (JAEID), 116(1), 59–76. https://doi.org/10.36253/jaeid-12295


Indigenous weather forecasting is utilized by numerous pastoralist communities throughout the world to take pivotal decisions on how to adapt to volatile ecological conditions. In many pastoral communities in Africa, indigenous weather forecasting knowledge abetted pastoralists to manage their livestock, reduce menace during adverse seasons and maximize prospects during favorable conditions. This study intends to assess the relevance and practices of indigenous weather forecasting knowledge, indigenous rain calendar and various indigenous indicators used to forecast the imminent weather events among the Gabra pastoralists of southern Ethiopia. The study is based on qualitative data gathered through key informant interviews and focus group discussions and the collected data was analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings show that the Gabra pastoralists possess a wealth of indigenous methods of weather forecasting knowledge which they use in their preparation for climate related events such as the inception of rainfalls and droughts. The Gabra pastoralists forecast the imminent weather events based on the keen observation of numerous indigenous indicators such as floras, faunas, wind, clouds, birds chirping, animals’ behavior, intestine of slaughtered animals and star assemblages. Despite all the potency of indigenous weather forecasting knowledge, the application of such knowledge systems is challenged by factors such as disappearance of indigenous indicators, climate change, deforestation, religion restriction, culture change and top-down development interventions. In light of the practicality of indigenous weather forecasting knowledge and contemporary challenges outlined, the study suggests a synthesis of indigenous and conventional methods of weather of prediction to provide timely and applicable service to pastoralist communities.


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