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Research, Policy and Practice

Table 1 Traditional Afar rain calendar and description of seasons

From: Indigenous weather and climate forecasting knowledge among Afar pastoralists of north eastern Ethiopia: Role in adaptation to weather and climate variability

Division of seasons   Timing and duration Description of seasons
   Timing Duration  
  Datrob 7–12 October 1 week In Afar language, Datrob literally means the dark rains and it is because the rain is preceded by very dark and heavy clouds. It is usually windy and destructive, albeit being an important rain for increasing grass cover and brow growth.
Gilal Konayto 27 October to 3 November 5 days The term Konayto in Afar means only 5 days and signifies the fact that this rain stays only for 5 days. This is a very light shower that marks the end of the rainy season. This is characterized by the replenishing of leaves of certain species which have shaded their leaves during the previous heavy rains.
Dababa 11 November to 9 December 1 month The term Dababa in Afar means additional or supplementary, which indicates that the rain is considered as a supplement to the long rainy season which ended with Konaytu rains. The season is characterized by misty and cloudy conditions and not noticeable rain.
Deda’e December to January 1 month Deda’e is a name given to a generally cold season. There is not much rain, but there is plenty of cold dew and misty and foggy sky.
Hagaya Segum 29 March to 23 May 2 months This is considered the second most important rainy season, next to the Karma or the main rainy season. The term Segum, in the Afar language, means a time of merry, satisfaction and abundance of creamy milk. This is because, when the Segum is good, it means animals and people have to endure only a very short period of dry season; as a result, there will be a lot of produce. The rains in this season are usually very strong with a lot of thunder and lightning.
Karma June to September 4 months Karma is the main rainy season. The rain starts as heavy and stormy rains during early to mid-June, peaking during the month of July and continuing with lighter and lighter showers during the month of August and very limited and declining rains during early to mid-September.