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Weather information use for risk management, vulnerability reduction agricultural productivity improvement in Tanzania
19 September 2011
Economic and Social Reserch Foundation


Climate change is currently topical within Tanzania, the region and at global level. The expected impending impacts of climate change to different sectors and how to mitigate and or adapt to them are the main concerns being articulated by various actors. The agriculture sector is an important sector in Tanzania due to around 80 per cent of Tanzanians depending on agriculture for their livelihood. It contributes around 25 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has the highest economic linkages to the economy through employment and exports. Climate change is expected to affect this major sector greatly especially due to the fact that most of the agricultural production taking place in the country is rain fed, a factor which is at the centre of the changing climate (URT 2005). Being able to reduce uncertainty by being able to forecast the weather and monitor its behavior would go a long way towards enabling the farmers to manage risk emanating from changes to rainfall regimes which are the basis of rain fed agriculture. This in turn reduces their vulnerability to climate change and facilitates agricultural productivity for food security and livelihoods.

In line with the above thinking, the IDRC funded a four-year participatory action research project on 'Managing Risk, Reducing Vulnerability and Enhancing Agricultural Productivity under a Changing Climate'. This project is being implemented in four countries of the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) namely Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Tanzania. It looks at reducing farmers' vulnerability to Climate Change impacts through helping them deal with uncertainty. After the initiation of the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) Participatory Action Researchers (PAR) projects, IDRC realized that these projects in their totality do not have a strong and visible link with policy makers and therefore the policy process. Subsequently, the Research to Policy on Adaptation (RPA) initiatives were introduced to complement the PAR activities through analysis of the policy context and designing Engagement Strategies which PAR researchers may use as a tool to improve their policy influence objectives.

The basis of our study is the PAR project undertaken by researchers from the Soil and Water Management Research Programme (SWMRP) at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). The PAR project area is in Same district, a semi arid area of Tanzania titled "Managing Risk, Reducing Vulnerability and Enhancing Agricultural Productivity under a Changing Climate".

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