Indigenous Traditions Can Help Us Adapt To Climate Change

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The Ugandan population is made up of a diversity of ethnicities with a broad cultural knowledge. The old traditions of Ugandan tribes have helped them to refine agriculture techniques and acquire valuable information about the environment. Nowadays the Rearl of Africa is one of the most affected countries by climate change and suffers unpredicted rainfalls, floods, droughts and other challenges that highly influence the local nature.

A study on the “Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Change Adaption” examined the influence of indigenous knowledge on the adaption to climate change, especially focussing on agriculture and related areas. The study was conducted in the Teso Sub-Region, Eastern Uganda. The Iteso have gathered knowledge about environmental changes for generations and have successfully learned how to cope with challenges using their traditions.

While it actually provides an inestimable value, indigenous knowledge has largely been abandoned when it comes to the development of climate change policies, and thus, policy makers struggle to apply accurate measures to affected areas.

82% of the Iteso who participated in the study use their indigenous knowledge in diverse everyday activities, ranging from spirituality to agricultural tasks.

Many of their knowledge cannot be applied anymore due to changes in their environment caused by climate change. While some decades ago they could rely on certain nature patterns such as the direction of the wind or recurring habits of species, nowadays many animals have disappeared from the area and the weather does not follow a reliable pattern anymore.

Still, almost half of the respondents admitted that they used their indigenous knowledge in crop production, and 13% used it on order to prepare for the dry season.

Alarmingly, this knowledge is in danger to be forgotten. While elder generations die without passing on their traditions to the younger ones, the indigenous traditions oftentimes are seen as archaic.

Especially the young ones neglect this valuable information when entering higher education, but new technologies tend not to work as well when applied in local agriculture due to their alien nature.

Additionally, since the concept of community resource protection is no longer used and people have claimed parts of the land their own, an increasing percentage of the area underlies deforestation. Even if the vast majority of the population knows about the fact that deforestation is one of the main reasons for the worsening droughts, they continue to chop down wood and further endanger the environment with their actions.

The survey comes to the conclusion that taking into account this traditional knowledge will result in sustainable and cost-effective strategies that can help to effectively adapt to climate change.

Egeru, A. (2012). Role of Inigenous Knowledge in Climate Change Adaptation. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, 11(2), 217-224.