Rainfall Variability in Murang'a District, Kenya: Meteorological Data and Farmers' Perception
This study examines meteorological data and farmers' perception of rainfall in the Central Highlands of Kenya. Rainfall data from five meteorological stations during the period from 1947 to 1996 were analysed on an annual and a monthly basis. Daily data exist from 1957 and analyses from 1957 to 1996 were done on a daily basis. Discussions were held with 60 farmers about rainfall and its variation. Ten of these farmers were interviewed with a questionnaire about rainfall. Analysing annual precipitation and rain periods gave no clear trends over the study period. Results from analysing the growing seasons for maize, the main annual crop, and periods during which maize plants are sensitive to drought showed decreasing trends in rainfall amounts for the study period. Results from the interviews indicate that most of the farmers think rainfall has decreased over the last 40 years. Farmers'perceptions of rainfall are related to periods when the main food and annual crop require water and not to the periods scientists often analyse, i.e. annual and rain periods. More research and better advice from agricultural extension workers to farmers are necessary to enable this area to sustain itself in sufficient food production if the decreasing trends during the growing seasons and drought-sensitive periods continue.