Linking traditional knowledge with seasonal forecasts in Samoa: lessons from our elders (9271)
Many Samoans forecast seasonal climate conditions through observation and monitoring of meteorological, astronomical and biological indicators (e.g. behaviour of plants and animals). Built over many generations, these knowledge systems are adapted to local conditions to cope with a highly variable and vulnerable environment. Traditional climate knowledge systems continue to influence all aspects of modern Samoan livelihoods from agricultural productivity to disaster response and recovery. For significant areas Samoa’s mountains have a significant impact on rainfall distribution and contribute to the reduced reliability of newer forecast methods. Inadequate trust or access to new forecasts means that the uptake of statistical forecasting methods is low with many locals continuing to use traditional forecasts. Despite its relevance in Samoa the accuracy and reliability of traditional forecasts are not well documented and understood. In response the Samoa Meteorological Division will bring together elders from Savaii and Upolu in Apia to discuss and document traditional knowledge and observations of climate, weather and oceans in their local environments. We outline recommendations from the workshop and discuss how an integrated approach to forecasting has the potential to improve the accuracy and utility of local forecasts as well as ensuring the communication of climate information is in a locally relevant context to increase adaptive capacity.