In Summary
  • When an event that the national meteorological department had forecasted doesn’t happen, people mistrust the forecast.
  • Farmers should trust and make use of climate information and early warnings issued by their national institutions including ministries of agriculture and organisations that provide them with localised advisories on crops, farming techniques, seed varieties, post-harvest technologies or access to markets.
  • The decline in the length of the seasons has been found in observations and model simulations. The decreasing trend is larger for June-July-August-September than for October-November-December.
  • Special focus should now be put on working better with FM stations, the true mass communication media in our region.

Guleid Artan is the director of the Climate Prediction and Applications Centre, which is part of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (Igad).

He spoke to Leopold Obi on the region’s changing climate outlook and how farmers can overcome the emerging challenges

Farmers are increasingly blaming the weatherman for not giving accurate predictions. Has climate change made it harder to accurately predict the weather?

Most people have a hard time understanding probabilities. When we release a forecast, it comes with probabilities. If there is a 60 per cent chance of an event happening, there is still a 40 per cent chance of it not happening.

When an event that the national meteorological department had forecasted doesn’t happen, people mistrust the forecast.

Although we will never be certain with a 100 per cent probability whether a climate event will happen, taking early mitigation actions can only be beneficial.

If the event doesn’t happen, and it was a false alarm, an early action would still help us to build long-term resilience.

What should farmers do to minimise the impact of the erratic weather?

Farmers should trust and make use of climate information and early warnings issued by their national institutions including ministries of agriculture and organisations that provide them with localised advisories on crops, farming techniques, seed varieties, post-harvest technologies or access to markets.

This can help them mitigate the impacts of climate change on their production.

What are the notable changes in the regional weather outlook?

The climate is changing and it is affecting our seasons. Temperatures are increasing everywhere in the greater Horn of Africa and this will continue in the future.

Globally, July was the hottest month since we began taking weather records. Besides, analysis of trends from 1981 to 2010 shows that the durations of the three seasons are getting shorter due to late onset and early withdrawal of the rains.

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