Climate crisis: Farmers turn to radio

It’s an indisputable fact that climate change is real and that it’s affecting our daily lives. From record-breaking forest fires in the Canadian west, to extreme winters, spring flooding, and heat waves in the east, it’s become a part of our daily lives.

For farmers in Tanzania, the reality is worse. Many rely on consistent rains to water their crops, or find pasture for their animals. Flash rains arrive unexpectedly, when the fields aren’t prepped, or don’t come at all, leaving prepared fields without much needed irrigation. Extreme weather can mean strong winds that can destroy homes.

“Farmers do not have a lot of information on climate change, but they feel it on the ground,” says Emerilinda Temba, our acting country head of programs in Tanzania. She visits farming communities regularly to ask residents about their needs.

“They used to know that when December comes, so does the rain. It’s our planting season. But now, when December arrives there is no rain. If you walk around Longido there are a lot of dry and drying areas and less animals than there used to be. There are a lot of challenges and farmers know that something is not right.”

For that reason, Farm Radio is working with the Tanzanian Metrological Authority, the Ministry of Agriculture and three local radio stations to broadcast timely and gender-sensitive weather information — and what to do about it — to 250,000 farmers as part of a program funded by the World Food Programme.

“Farmers do not have a lot of information on climate change, but they feel it on the ground.”

“Currently we are facing a challenge of dryness in the area,” says Samson Kekishan Laizer, a pastoralist in Longido. “If we have weather information it will be easier to know when to move and where to move to and where to return, where we can find pasture and water for our animals and agriculture practices.”

Information broadcast on the radio programs will also be followed up on by alerts sent to farmers’ phones with the forecast and corresponding tips, reaching people who may not even live within reach of the radio stations.

“I feel when one thing isn’t working there is another one,” says Emerilinda. “If radio doesn’t reach, then maybe there is an SMS. If SMS doesn’t work there is ‘boda boda’ radio.”

Boda boda is the popular term for motorcycle taxis in Tanzania. In what we call ‘boda boda radio’, people on motorbikes take memory cards to remote places unreachable by radio signals. There, groups can listen on wind-up playback devices.

“If we have weather information it will be easier to know when to move and where to move to and where to return.”

Emerilinda, a dynamic staff member and advocate for farmers in her own right, says it’s also key that the information is something farmers themselves have asked for in the design process of the project.
“I love it because it is not what I have decided I want to tell them but it is what they want to hear,” she says.

She believes getting this information to farmers and rural people is necessary for them to make important decisions in their own lives.

“I want to go to sleep and know that when I wake up feel that farmers have information. That they can take precautions,” she says.

“I wish to wake up and find that this information is at the fingertips of the farmers and pastoralists.”

Project quick facts

  • 9 month project
  • 3 radio stations
  • 60 community listening groups
  • 250,000 listeners
  • 3 districts in northern Tanzania: Kiteto, Longido, Kondoa

Help farmers like Samson Laizer get information on climate change.

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