Too much rain means fields flood. Too little rain, and those who raise animals need to move their herds. Without climate and weather information and advisory services, many farmers are left scrambling when the weather isn’t what they expect.
Climate change poses serious threats and challenges in East Africa. In Tanzania, unpredictable and extreme weather is making it increasingly difficult for farmers to predict and adapt to the changing climate to protect their crops, their animals, and in turn, their livelihoods.
Farm Radio and the World Food Programme worked in collaboration with the Tanzania Meteorological Authority, three radio stations, and district and local extension workers in three districts in Northern Tanzania to take weather forecasts, interpret them, translate them into local languages, and explain what that meant for farmers—all through radio and mobile phones. A key focus of the project was laying the foundation for a sustained and growing weather information service that responds to farmers’ and pastoralists’ needs for climate and weather services by strengthening the network of stakeholders.
The project had several different elements. Radio programs on Radio Sauti ya Injili, Orkonerei Radio, and Radio Irangi, produced climate-smart farming radio shows, broadcast twice a week to more than 4 million potential listeners. The stations also recorded AgriTips, short statements and jingles with useful information in both Swahili and Maasai. The tips were broadcast throughout the week, along with up-to-date weather information.
We also used interactive voice response phone lines that farmers could call to get information, and we sent text messages to subscribers with weather information direct from the Tanzania Meteorological Authority, alongside corresponding agriculture and herding advice.
The following are highlights from FRI’s project evaluation survey in 2020:
- An estimated 450,000 people heard at least one episode of the radio program across the three project districts.
- The majority of listeners overall (58%) rated their knowledge of how to use weather information to improve their farming as “better” after listening to the radio programs. About one-quarter (24%) said that their knowledge was “much better.”
- A large majority (89%) said that listening to the radio program had increased their skills at using weather information to improve their farming.
- A moderate to high percentage of listeners in all three districts changed their farming practices after hearing extension agents translate current weather predictions into specific recommendations. These practices included seed selection, weeding, fertilization, seed planting, vaccination, and timing of moving their herds.
- Our “Beep4Weather” phone system that allowed farmers to call in and get direct access to weather forecasts, saw an astounding 42,925 interactions over the course of the project.
Women are more likely to live in poverty than men, they have less access to human rights such as land tenure and they face systematic violence that escalates during periods of instability like the climate crisis. These factors, and many others, mean that women will bear the brunt of the worsening effects of climate change.
It was crucial that women farmers in Tanzania were properly consulted and represented throughout the design and delivery of this radio program. We asked women what topics they wanted to hear more about and ensured that these were covered appropriately. We aired the program at a time that women told us fit within their busy lives, and we made sure that they could call in and participate in the live program. Finally, when broadcasters played the recorded voices of farmers on the air, we made certain that women were well represented.
Farm Radio also worked with community listening groups who would listen together, discuss what they heard, and receive weather reports directly to their phone. Of the 60 community listening groups that were formed, 38 were women only.
This project is made possible through funding from the World Food Programme.
- Duration: 9 months, 2019
- Budget: $225,837 CAD
- Radio stations: 3
- Languages: Swahili, Maasai