Empowering Tanzanian Farmers Through Climate Services

“We need to know if the rain is going to be a problem” says Joyce Joram Tuppa, a farmer in a village near Dodoma, Tanzania. “Sometimes we don’t have anything to eat. This year, we cultivated but there was no rain so we have harvested nothing”. Through a ‘climate services’ initiative WFP is implementing, farmers like Joyce are being trained on how to use climate information that will help them make better decisions to protect their food security and livelihoods.

Climate change is increasing the number of climate disasters that people face. Such disasters trap a large number of people in a cycle of hunger. In many countries, people do not have access to adequate information to decide on what to do about impending floods and droughts. This results in them making poor decisions that can make them go hungry. 

Tanzania is a case in point: “Roughly 80 percent of Tanzania’s population is involved in some form of agriculture and with only 1 percent of arable land under irrigation, understanding weather and rainfall patterns is a necessity. Empowering farmers with knowledge and skills to deal with climate change is critical not only towards their survival but also as a fundamental ingredient towards growing a successful economy,” says Richard Ragan, WFP Country Director in Tanzania.

When people are provided with easily digestible information, they are able to make better decisions which build their own resilience to future climate risks and protect their food security. WFP is helping communities and governments build their resilience and adapt to climate-related shocks. Climate service activities are one of the ways we are doing this.

Training farmers on climate and weather data

What are Climate Services?

Climate services help people address more frequent and intense climate shocks through the provision of suitable information that enables them to make informed decisions about their livelihoods. The emphasis is on providing “services” to vulnerable communities: information for their specific needs that is easy to understand, accessible and actionable to address climate risks people are likely to face.

Examples of climate services include early warning systems to guide people on how to prepare for a major storm, information on migration routes for livestock during a drought, information on better food storage options for an unusually wet season, or on suggested crops to plant in drier long-term conditions under climate change.

Tanzania: Training farmers on climate and weather data, and crop and livelihood options

In Tanzania, WFP has been implementing a climate service project with a number of partners under the Global Framework on Climate Services Adaptation Programme for Africa initiative. Together with CCAFS and the University of Reading, we are training important “intermediaries” with how to access, understand and communicate complex climate information to farmers and pastoralists.

These agricultural extension workers then target communities in which WFP is working in Tanzania. Many different groups can be targeted with climate services, with the information provided becoming an additional asset to people's toolbox of resilient-building activities.

A participatory approach

The training of trainers and farmers is grounded in the University of Reading’s PICSA manual, being launched October 28th. PICSA is a participatory process that encourages farmers to take decisions by providing them with weather and climate data, the skills to interpret it, and a menu of livelihood, crop and livestock options that best fits their needs and the expected weather.

The impact

Joyce Tuppa, a Tanzanian farmer
Joyce Joram Tuppa. Photo:WFP/Photolibrary 

A key part of enabling people to deal with climate risks is getting access to the right information. After receiving a training from an extension worker in September, Joyce said: “Today was a good day because we got training on how weather changes and how this  can result in less harvest, and what we should do when weather changes. When we see the weather indicates less rain we should select seeds that comply with the weather of less rain”.

Jonas Kombo. Photo:WFP/Photolibrary 

Jonas Kombo, another farmer who also received the training said, “Today’s training has been very helpful because now I will know what type of crops I have to cultivate this year because I have learned the expected amount of rain and that will help me to prevent losing my resources, compared to before”.

WFP and Climate Services

WFP has been working in climate services for a considerable time, building on its long-term experience in vulnerability analysis and mapping (VAM) emergency warnings and disaster risk reduction. Recently, WFP has been piloting new innovations, including this programme in Tanzania and Malawi, as well as other initiatives such as LEAP, SAPARM, R4 and FoodSECuRE.

Useful Links

- Download the PICSA Manual 
- Announcement of the Online Launch of the Participatory Climate Information Services for Agriculture Manual
Webinar page