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Climate co-knowledge generation between communities, ag services and Tajik Pilot Programme on Climate Resilience



In other regions, agro-pastoralists’ perceptions of climate variability and change, and ability to link their observations with ‘formal’ scientific observation have been shown to influence adaptive capacity (Banarjee 2015; Reid et al. 2007). This pilot study would work with a subset (3-4) of villages along an elevation transect in Vanj District in the GBAO, using community-based participatory action research principles (Chambers 1994; Fazey et al. 2010) to:

1) Identify through oral histories, interviews, FG discussions and analysis of song, dance, storytelling the nature signals that once used to be relevant at that elevation for making decisions about cropping patterns, livestock management and community festivals. Nature signals to be explored could include plant type and cycles, and insect, bird and animal patterns and significance to climate signals (Pennesi 2007). In other mountain locations, insects and plants are moving to higher elevations in response to climate shifts (Chaudhary and Bawa 2011). Villagers at the different elevations along the transect will explore and document any elevation shifts in species composition. Villagers at lower elevations may be able to share their knowledge with those at higher elevations as to what nature signals were once relevant for their agro-pastoral decisions, and jointly develop new indicators for different elevations.

2) Collate villagers’ observations of climate variability, such as shifts in frost dates, precipitation patterns, etc. with PPCR efforts to upgrade Tajikistan’s met data and climate services. Records do exist for many regions, but are only now being digitized and homogenized.

3) Villagers will explore and develop new systems of body calendars that while are flexible to adapt to shifting conditions, are easier to share. SMS, radio programs, classes at school and adult education programs,  songs, etc. to be shared at festivals like Nawruz that could promote knowledge sharing.

Category of the action


Who will take these actions?

Owners - Through a participatory action research approach, the villagers will be the primary drivers of calendar re-creation, and knowledge co-generation and sharing with emerging ag services and the PPCR. Villagers at the 3-4 different elevations will colate observations in climate and ecological shifts, and help identify indicators for new calendars, songs, stories and other flexible modes of sharing knowledge. Villagers’ observations can be used to ground-truth and supplement climate data quality control and homogenization efforts of Tajik Met Office through the PPCR. Women would be particularly targeted to be the knowledge generators and sharers, as they dominate agro-pastoral and village composition due to male economic migration. Elders and spiritual leaders would also be included, and children.

Facilitators - Dr. Kassam's team. Will provide liason assistance with ag services, Central Asia University and PPCR. Will help villagers traslate and share their climate and ecological observations with the formal institutions.

PPCR - Tajikistan's climate services are being modernized, including digitization and cleaning of climate records that were often hand-recorded during the and post-Soviet era. Members of the PPCR would participate in some of the village knowledge generation and sharing workshops and work with the villagers to devise socioeconomically appropriate ways of providing formal met data.

Ag extension services - participate in village knowledge generation and sharing workshops to understand key ecological indicators and how these can bolster agricultural and livestock decisions.


What are other key benefits?

1) Villagers gain access to better seasonal forecasts and hazard early warning to guide planting and crop selection decisions. This might help them, in conjunction with ag extension service projects, to develop suites of adaptation options to build income resilience and diversification.

2) Monitoring networks and 'official' climatological data at mid- and high-elevations may be lacking. With a co-knowledge platform, the villagers' observations and recollections of historical climate conditions can serve as proxy data for documenting climate trends, and provide information on the livelihood and ecological impacts of the changes. This knowledge can feed into larger sector and countrywide adaptation initiatives.

3) A knowledge sharing network between villages at different elevations allows for noticing ecological elevation shifts and relational meaning to community livelihood and culture. It also establishes an informal early warning network between communities.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Project costs are difficult to estimate without knowing:

1) the salary per person months requirements of Dr. Kassam's team,

2) ability to be based in Tajikistan to reduce number of international flights.

3) honorarium requirements for villagers, PPCR participants or ag extension officers.

4) local transportation, lodging, per diem, visa and insurance costs

5) data procurement costs

6) dissemination costs - policy briefs, conference presentations, project reports

Based on pilot projects of a similar scale for examining climate change and food security in the Gandaki Zone of Nepal conducted by the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-Nepal (ISET-Nepal), we estimate total project costs to be around 200,000 to 250,000USD for 2-3 years.

Time line

The inital project will be piloted at 3-4 villages along an elevation transect over a 2 to 3 year period - time frame dependent on establishing relationships between pilot communities and formal institutions and building trust.

Depending on the success of the initial pilot project, additional funding could be sought to scale up the project and or look at more formally including it within the emerging agricultural services promoted by groups like the Aga Khan Foundation, USAID, DfID, etc. and broader government (Tajikistan and Afghanistan) climate resilience initiatives. Initial project success could likely be gaged 6-8 months prior to project completion, if an appropriate monitoriing and evaluation system is set up at project inception. Additional funding would then be sought to scale to an additional 10 villages in neighboring districts/ cross border over another project that would last 5 years.


Related proposals


Banerjee, R.R. 2015. Farmers' perceptions of climate change, impact and adaptation strategies: a case of four villages in the semi-arid regions of India. Natural Hazards 75: 2829-2845.

Chambers, R. 1994. The Origins and Practice of Participatory Rural Appraisal. World Development 22(7): 953-969.

Chaudhary, P. and Bawa, K.S. 2011. Local perceptions of climate change validated by scientific evidence in the Himalayas. Biology Letters 7(5): 767-770.

Fazey, I. et al. 2010. Adaptation strategies for reducing vulnerability to future environmental change. Frontiers in Ecology 8(8): 9.

Pennesi, K.E. 2007. The Predicament of Prediction: Rain Prophets and Meteorologists in Northeast Brazil, Anthropology. University of Arizona.

Reid, S. et al. 2007. Vulnerability and adaptation to climate risks in Ontario. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 12: 609-637.