Meteorologists, Yachachiqs and Andean cabanuelas

On the Vilcanota River bank, the community of Huaccaytaqui, district of Quiquijana, province of Quispicanchi, Cuzco, 20 SENAMHI specialists participated in the first joint observation meeting with the Yachachiq – experts and bearers of ancestral knowledge of climate – to work on the First Local Seasonal Forecast for 2018.

“The cabanuelas” are defined as the “popular calculation based on observation of atmospheric changes in the first 12, 18 or 24
days of Januaary or August, to forecast each of the months of the same year or the next (*)

The First Knowledge Meeting that sought to combine scientific knowledge and the cosmovision of the peasant community of Huaccaytaqui, of the district of Quiquijana (Cuzco) with respect to the climate and their ancestral knowledge, started just after midnight on July 31 and went on through the month of August. During the month, Senamhi meteorologists and Andean experts (Yachachiq) were engaged in the observation process, closely and thoroughly monitoring the behavior of the clouds, dawns, dusks, the river, the direction of the wind and the bio indicators.

Mauro Huamán

Mauro Huamán (50), yachachiq from the community of Huaccaytaqui, commented: “For us it is important to thank our pachamama, it is because of her that we live happily, she takes care of us.” Because as they say in the community, August is a magical month, Watakallary.

The Pleiades or Seven Sisters are a cluster of stars close to the Earth; in the Peruvian Andes they are known as “Qoto” and are observed at 04:00 on August 1. According to Fortunato Puma (55) yachachiq of Huaccaytaqui, these stars are indicators that tell us if sowing must be moved forward or delayed. “We not only watch the stars, but all our surrounding nature, the clouds, the animals and plants,” he points out.

Fortunato Puma

The purpose of this first meeting was to lay out bridges to reassess ancestral knowledge in the Andes. It is the first time that scientific knowledge dialogues with the knowledge of the Yachachiqs and their ancestral know-how to perform the first local forecast. Wise leaders and meteorologists, environmental engineers and agronomists, who study the weather and climate, will jointly prepare the seasonal forecast for 2018.

Nelson Quispe, director of the Meteorological Forecast Office of SENAMHI stated: “For us, this meeting of knowledges has enabled us to recover knowledge that in some cases had been forgotten; and the Yachachiq are easy learners of scientific details.” He added that in higher lands, the communities have a different interpretation and other indicators; hence, forecasts are local. “Sharing this knowledge has been a great and very gratifying experience,” he pointed out.

Zenón Huamán, Director of Zone 13 of SENAMHI (Cuzco) also expressed the commitment to add a conventional meteorological station to the automatic station recently installed in the marketplace of the community.

Conventional stations are monitored by a person called “meteorological observer” and, according to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) standards, data (meteorological variables) are entered three times a day: at 07:00, at 13:00 and at 19:00 hours. In this respect, the Yachachiqu will be a key element to gather the meteorological observation data.

This type of knowledge and ancestral know-how about the climate is not always systematized or in written form. The Yachachiq Fortunato Puma has notes from his observations of the past five years; information from a short period, but valuable, which will be systematized, compared and analyzed to keep this value alive in the southern Andes of Peru.

SENAMHI will continue with this activity and will follow up closely. The Zone 13 Office of SENAMHI thus becomes a crucial articulator for the construction of this dialogue process, exchange of information, know-how transfer and preparation of the combined forecast, which responds to an intercultural policy of memory and social inclusion.

This knowledge meeting took place within the framework of the Climandes Project, an initiative of the Global Program for Climate Change and Environment of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (COSUDE) in joint efforts with the meteorological services of Switzerland (MeteoSwiss) and Peru (SENAMHI) the academy, the civil society and the private sector for implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The project seeks to provide reliable and timely climate services for decision making in the search of more resilient development in the face of climate variability.

For the photo gallery, click here

< address style="text-align: justify;">Relevant links:
CLIMANDES Project, project fiche, Swiss Embassy, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (COSUDE)
Web National Meteorology and Hydrology Service of Peru
Web La Molina University
Web World Meteorological Organization
Web MeteoSwiss

Related information:
Reportaje in the Ñuqanchik News Show, August 18, 2017
Entrevista in the Ñuqanchik News Show, August 25, 2017


(*) Real Academia de la Lengua Española (RAE)



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La Agencia Suiza para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación (COSUDE) es la entidad encargada de la cooperación internacional dentro del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores (DFAE). Con otras oficinas de la Confederación, la COSUDE es responsable de la coordinación general de la cooperación para el desarrollo y de la cooperación con los Países del Este, así como de los programas de ayuda humanitaria suizos.