Pacific countries consider traditional knowledge

Samoa is among five Pacific island states that are considering the use of traditional knowledge in areas such as forecasting of extreme weather conditions.

A study titled “Enhancing Climate Resilience in the Pacific: Assessment of a Participatory Approach to Improve Climate Communication” – which is co-authored by 10 experts including Samoa Meteorological Service’s Faapisa Aiono – demonstrates how a participatory approach can be used to preserve and promote the continued use of traditional knowledge and incorporate it into national meteorological services’ products and services.

The study uses five countries including Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu as examples.

The Climate and Oceans Support Programme in the Pacific recently had its overall traditional knowledge project paper published online as a chapter in the Palgrave Handbook of Climate Resilient Societies, which are a series that provide readers with an understanding of the term resilience and what climate-resilient societies mean.

The paper’s co-authors include Dr Lynda Chambers of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Roan D Plotz of Victoria University in Melbourne; Siosinamele Lui and Tile Tofaeaono of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme [S.P.R.E.P.]; David Hiriasia of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service; Ofa Fa’anunu and Seluvaia Finaulahi of the Tonga Meteorological Service; Rosslyn Pulehetoa Mitiepo of the Niue Meteorological Service; Faapisa Aiono of the Samoa Meteorological Service; and Albert Willy of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department.

Ms Lui, in a statement released by the S.P.R.E.P., emphasised the importance of traditional knowledge and how it can resolve many weather challenges. 

"Our traditional knowledge holds some of the oldest scientific records and observations in our region, recognising the value of these traditional knowledge and cultural practices, and when combined with science, this knowledge can work to address many of the challenges faced today," she said.

Across the Pacific, national meteorological services are working with traditional knowledge experts to build community resilience to extreme events.

And while they are mandated to provide relevant and timely meteorological information to communities – including forecasts and warnings of conditions that are likely to endanger life, property or the environment – in rural or remote areas, however, particularly in developing countries, traditional weather forecasting may be preferred over contemporary methods. 

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