Increasing climate variability in the semi-arid Kalahari environment calls for better and timely seasonal precipitation forecasts to enable decisions at farm level and avoid disruption of livelihoods dependent on the natural resource base. This study revealed the growing importance of precipitation forecasts among agro-pastoral communities, particularly the amount, timing, duration and distribution of rainfall. Whilst a number of traditional indicators like stars, flowering of certain tree species and clouds were used, their reliability is gradually waning off in the face of increased climatic variability. Subsequently meteorology-based seasonal forecasts are preferred and accessed by most households. A lead-time of 1 to 2 months before commencement of the rainy season would enable agro-pastoralists to adequately prepare and take advantage of anticipated moisture surplus or avert production shortfalls if moisture deficits are predicted. Thus, combinations of some of the traditional methods and timely, easily understood meteorology-based forecasts would enable better accuracy of predictions and allow Kalahari agro-pastoralists to buffer their livelihoods against the adverse effects of climate variability and ensure sustainable rural development.
Key words: Agro-pastoralists, Botswana, climate variability, indicators, meteorology, traditional.
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