How can climate services and technology improve livestock management in pastoral communities?
DESCRIPTION: In the West African Sahel – which illustrates the most dramatic cases of recorded rainfall variability and famine – pastoralism is in crisis. This proposed study seeks to examine how climate services and technology can improve livestock management in underserved pastoral communities. While seasonal forecasts and indications of vegetative health have been available to the agricultural community for decades, technical constraints have limited the usefulness of such information for pastoralists. Yet, pastoralists, who are mobile due to their reliance on erratic rainfall and pasture availability, have been poorly studied compared to sedentary farmers. Recent developments in subseasonal climate forecasting and remote sensing have the potential to provide new information to pastoralists that will complement, not replace, existing indigenous knowledge and practices currently being used to make livestock management and mobility decisions. As part of their national adaptation plans, Sahelian countries promote pastoralists’ access to grazing land and water as climate change, recent socio-political events, and insecurity increase competition over resources in the region. The interdisciplinary team working on this project will incorporate findings from new research on climate services and remote sensing being made at Columbia’s Earth Institute with fieldwork data to contribute to these adaptation goals.