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Climate Knowledge from the Ancestors

03 February 2020

Have you ever found yourself looking outside the window, wondering if it will be raining soon? Perhaps you never thought of asking the ants.

If you had grown up in an indigenous village in Bolivia, you would have learnt from your relatives to look at ants’ nests for changes in behaviour. Yapuchiri farmers, who use traditional practices to predict the weather, rely on these little animals to forecast incoming rainfall and plan for better harvests.

We asked Lidia Mondaque, a Yapuchiri peach farmer in Bolvia, the secret of this technique.

Lidia and her neighbours are worried about the impact of a changing climate on their lands. They have already witnessed an increase in persistent droughts, which according to predictions will affect up to a third of Bolivia by 2030.

With small-scale farmers providing 70 per cent of the country’s food needs and one third of rural people already living in extreme poverty, protecting the country’s agricultural sector is essential.

In Bolivia, IFAD loans support family farming and programmes that aim to ensure national food security. The projects put a special emphasis on women, young people and indigenous peoples, who are key stakeholders for the country’s sustainable development.

Initiatives such as the “talking maps contest” give indigenous peoples, women and youth a voice in decision-making, providing the opportunity to come up with their own solutions using IFAD’s financial support. Local traditional knowledge is a key resource of this approach, allowing communities to adapt climate change mitigation to a very small scale, based on their local needs.

The talking maps initiative is part of IFAD’s Economic Inclusion Programme for Families and Rural Communities in the Territory of Plurinational State of Bolivia (ACCESOS ASAP). Thanks to this programme, more than 6,000 hectares of land were restored or preserved.

ACCESOS ASAP benefitted more than 56,000 small-scale farmers, like Lidia, who now have the opportunity to fight against the changing climate and build a better future for the next generation.

Read more about IFAD’s support to self-driven development, with projects that strengthen indigenous peoples’ cultural identity and natural resources.