The marriage of science and rainmakers
The Nganyi rainmakers have been predicting the weather in the Luhya community of western Kenya for generations, using changes in nature to guide their advice on how the community should time its farming.
But the erratic weather patterns brought by climate change mean the rainmakers can no longer use signs, such as when trees shed their leaves or the behaviour of ants, to make their predictions. And they don't have access to the technologies available to meteorologists.
But now a UK–Canadian project is linking the rainmakers with government meteorologists. The two groups get together each season and produce a forecast to be disseminated using a variety of methods suited to communities where many are illiterate.
Both parties are satisfied with the collaboration. "I think the two sciences are equally valid. We are marrying our energies to help people better," says Mr Onunga, a Nganyi community elder involved in the scheme.
"Another breakthrough is the dissemination aspect," says University of Nairobi lecturer Gilbert Ouma. "We have been able to deliver the message in practical, useable terms — not so much meteorological terms."
"Through this project we hope to learn what it is that we can share together to live today and to adapt to tomorrow," says Laban Ogallo, leader of the Nganyi project.