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The people of Umbulo Wacho

Rainfall Monitoring in Ethiopia- A Participatory approach

In June 2003 a request was recieved from Debub University Awassa to advise on the setting up of a participatory raingauage network in Awassa (Umbulo Wacho). The raingauges were to be monitored by the farmers, and the project was financed by Development Corporation Ireland. The raingauges were installed in March 2005 and further raingauges were installed in project areas in Tigray (Begasheka, and Debra Kidan) and Gurage (Beresa) in June 2004. In 2005 checks were made to see how the rainfall monitoring was progressing.


Map of project area locations

Training was given to farmers which included how to read the raingauge and record the reading. This included what to do if they missed a reading or spilt water from the gauge (Figure 4). It was agreed that readings should be taken when the farmers woke up rather than at 9.00 am because the farmers might be feeding animals or working in the fields at that time. Farmers were also urged to train other members of their families in case they were away.

Farmer training in Umbulo


  • Farmers have a genuine interest in recording rainfall, and many continued recording without support.
  • Farmer recording is generally reliable and is an easy measurement for farmers to record if they or a member of the household is literate.
  • The pattern of rainfall recorded by farmers in each project area was similar but the amounts recorded varied across the catchment. This is in part due to differences in recording by farmers but is mainly due to rainfall variations. This highlights the dangers of relying on a single rainguage and poor site selection.
  • Government Institutions have lots of responsibilities and field staff have a rapid turn over, which means that visits by researchers and agriculural extention workers to collect rainfall data from the farmers are often forgotten until needed.



1. July 2003 - Umbulo Wacho

2. March 2004- Umbulo Wacho

3. July 2004 - Umbulo, Beresa, Begasheka and Debra Kidan

4. March 2005 - Umbulo, Beresa, Begasheka and Debra Kidan




Copyright © Martin Hollingham