Rediscovering Indigenous Climate Knowledge for Better Responses to Climate Change: Insights from Muzarabani

By Nelson Chanza and Anton de Wit.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article sets discourse by demonstrating the utility of indigenous climate knowledge (ICK) in understanding the science of climate change in Muzarabani, a rural community north of Zimbabwe. It argues that the notion of sacredness, enshrined in customary arrangements and belief systems offers opportunities for exploitation in climate science. Through customary law, communities understand the sanctity and inviolability of the environment because of the varied cultural, political and ecological benefits derived from it. This perspective, although facing perpetuity challenges in Africa, can be exploited both to enhance understanding of climate change and to promote sustainable intervention strategies. By drawing from the experiences of indigenous people through in-depth conservations with a selected elderly local group, the paper proves that ICK offers capabilities in informing climate science. The local people have a range of sacred sites and environmental assets that can be used to understand past, current and future climate system from their many years of interactions with the same. Sacred forests and trees are also vital in climate change mitigation. It is concluded that albeit limitations in scale, opportunities exist for tapping from the sacredness notion to enhance the praxis of mitigation strategies such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

Keywords: climate science, indigenous climate knowledge, sacredness

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 6, Issue 3-4, May 2015, pp.19-35. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 653.502KB).

Mr Nelson Chanza

Researcher, Geosciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Nelson Chanza is a Researcher in the Department of Geosciences at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, where he obtained his PhD in Environmental Geography. Nelson also holds an MSc in Environmental Policy and Planning and a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Zimbabwe. Nelson has also worked as lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe since 2007. He has also actively participated in national and international training and capacity building programmes on monitoring and evaluation, poverty alleviation and disaster management planning and programming. His current research interests are in participatory climate risk assessment and community-based adaptation. Nelson has written several articles and book chapters on the topics of sustainable rural development, disaster management and indigenous-based responses to climate change.

Dr. Anton de Wit

Lecturer, Geosciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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