Climate change will likely impact rainfall characteristics in particular locations; the amount, seasonality, variability and spatial patterns. In developing countries, this presents challenges for rural smallholder farmers as their livelihoods are largely based on rain-fed practices. Changes in climate patterns could increase farmers' vulnerability and the need for intervention. In this paper, we develop new metrics of analysis motivated by qualitative research with smallholder farmers. Previous research found that farmers' understanding of historical rainfall change is accurate, yet diverge from some research studies. We analyze meteorological station rainfall data using metrics that are familiar to smallholders. Farmers' perceptions of rainfall in southern Ethiopia were explored through interviews conducted in three communities. Our findings identified some forms of convergence, as well as divergence, in farmers' perception of rainfall trends and meteorological station data results. In asking the question ‘Why do data based on farmer experiences of rainfall variability differ from meteorological station data?’, we show that using existing data and applying farmer-influenced metrics can improve the information shared with farmers. We argue that, under further climate change, it will be increasingly important to convey meteorological information to farmers in ways that are relevant to them and their agricultural livelihoods.

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Journal of Arid Environments
Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs

Cochrane, L, Lewis, S.C. (Sophie C.), Engdaw, M.M. (Mastawesha Misganaw), Thornton, A. (Alec), & Welbourne, D.J. (Dustin J.). (2019). Using farmer-based metrics to analyze the amount, seasonality, variability and spatial patterns of rainfall amidst climate change in southern Ethiopia. Journal of Arid Environments. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2019.104084