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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

where traditional rain ritual is part of the larger scheme to adapt to a changing climate

Local knowledge, practices, and innovations are important elements for community-based coping and adaptation mechanisms, but the implementation of such mechanisms is limited
In largely traditionally religious and superstitious communities in the country, performing rituals to please local deities for timely rain for a good harvest isn’t an uncommon practice.
This, a climate climate change vulnerability assessment carried out by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP), says is actually one of the many current adaptive measures taken by communities when rain fall becomes erratic.
However, the communities also had various other adaptive measures to cope with the changing weather.
“The community’s measures to cope with current climate and non-climate induced changes are based on both traditional knowledge and modern technology,” states the report.
The study was done within the Wangchuck Centennial Park using a representative sample of households from the larger population by selecting specific sites in order to provide the maximum representation of agro-ecological and vegetation zones.
In total three representative gewogs were selected from three dzongkhags within the park. They were Chokhor in Bumthang, Nubi in Trongsa, and Sephu in Wangude.
“This method was chosen because it was the best way to analyze the population’s vulnerability, which varies village to village,”
The report says that community members have limited awareness and knowledge about the cause of climate change and likely future trends in climate hazards.
“While local people may not be aware of the drivers of climate change, they seem to understand climate change in terms of warming and erratic weather patterns and the impact it has on their livelihoods,” states the report.
Among the strategies already being practiced are changes in cropping patterns, changes in the choice and the use of embankments for landslide prevention. The study found out that more varieties of vegetables are grown now.
In Chokhor Gewog farmers focused on subsistence vegetable farming instead of cultivating cereal crops while in Nubi gewog, some communities use pipe-borne water for irrigation instead of open drainage, in order to reduce losses from evaporation and leakage due to landslides.
“Some communities started using greenhouses to protect vegetables from frost in winter,” states the report.
It was also found that some communities kept smaller number of improved breed cattle which are fed in stalls and graze land around houses instead of large herds of traditional breeds as natural pastures and other grazing areas in the forest have shrunk as a result of land degradation.
But due to limited awareness, knowledge, and capacity at the local level, communities were unable to understand climate change scenarios, address issues, and conduct long-term planning.
“Within their capacity, farmers have been copping the best that they can,”
The report says that the strategies of the farmers of these communities are limited to the resources they possess and can access.
“Information on predicted changes in weather patterns is crucial for farmers to plan cropping practices, but this information is beyond the reach of ordinary farmers, who lack both the knowledge and the access to technology that can help with decision making,” states the report.
The study recommended various strategies for short and long term. Raising awareness and sensitization in groups and institutions, providing technical and financial support for vulnerable groups, shifting toward sustainable land management, and strengthening the agricultural system are some of short-term adaptation strategies while research and development, technology transfer, and financing and stakeholders mapping are some of the long term strategies.

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