Can indigenous knowledge be essential in tackling adverse effects of climate crisis in Africa?

07 08 2022 | 08:37Kevine Odongo

Many methods and numerous techniques are currently under application across the world purposefully to curb the menace of negative climate variation . Perhaps the most underutilized technique in this digital era is the use of indigenous knowledge . It is the discerning and practices developed by communities with lengthened history of interaction with their natural sarrounding .  Below is case studies across the massively endowed continent - AFRICA. 

The Zai . This is an approach broadly used in West Africa to recover degraded land . It was first implemented by Yacouba Sawadogo from Burkina Faso  ( a Laureate of 2018 Right Livelihood Award ) alias the man who stopped the desert . It involves constructing barriers to prevent water runoff allowing seepage of water into the soil thus preventing erosion . Afterwards , holes are dug and seeds of trees and cereals are planted . These trees are drought resistant and have authentic medicinal value . Primarily , this method can produce food in areas where initially nothing could be successfully planted .

Transhumance . Basically , it is the seasonal movement of livestock and people between highland pastures in summer and lowlands in winter . A lot of communities in arid areas are literally cemented with the practices . Drought resistant livestock are kept to contend with drought e.g camels which cope better than cattle . Other vibrant ideas are evidently incorporated by locals like Boran community who have traditional land management system called Dedha to help survive the changing environment . In addition , other communities are even practicing " mini" farming, that is, they grow considerable crops in favourable times to supplement their needs . This not only help reduce the adverse impact of climatic crisis ,starvation , but also help provide for the livestock thus guaranteeing livelihood . 

Rotational farming . Entails growth of different crops successively on the same piece of land . It has substantially numerous advantages including management of soil and soil fertility , overseeing reduction in erosion , improving of soil's health and increase nutrients available for the crops . Consequently , this result to massive yields . 

Shifting cultivation . In Africa, farmers clear a chosen piece of land and cultivate it for a short duration of time , abandon it to allow reversion to produce normal vegetation while the farmer moves to another identified piece of land . This results in significant  reduction in soil- bone diseases , fast start of crops growth as well as making it easy to grow crops .

Summing it up , food security is still an issues of concern in many African countries. The world is at risk of  loss of biodiversity , climate change and unsustainable development . Maybe it is time we go indigenous a bit .


By:  Kevine ODONGO

Bachelor of Technology In Renewable energy 

Technical University of Mombasa