Local knowledge for environment protection and climate change adaptation in Nigeria/Africa

Local knowledge for environment protection and climate change adaptation in Nigeria/Africa

by: Geoffrey I. Nwaka (presenting author)

Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria

 

Global inequalities today derive largely from the historic imbalance in the way knowledge for development has been produced and applied. But Marshall Sahlins has rightly emphasized the need for all peoples “to indigenize the forces of global modernity and turn them to their own ends” as the real impact of globalization depends largely on the responses developed at the local level. Africa contributes least to, but suffers the most from, climate change. How can the continent cope with the worsening threats of flooding, droughts and other emergencies that result from extreme weather conditions? The paper considers how indigenous knowledge and practice can be used to support natural resource management and climate adaptation in Nigeria and Africa at large. Although poverty may sometimes force people to use resources unsustainably, most traditional African societies have deeply entrenched ideas about environmental protection and sustainability because their livelihood depends largely on the land and on the stability of the ecosystem. They believe that land and other forms of nature are sacred, and are held in trust by the present day users on behalf of dead ancestors and future generations. Chief Nana Ofori Atta of Ghana told a colonial official that “land belongs to a large family of which many are dead, a few are living, and countless hosts are yet unborn”. While Africa stands to gain form global science and international best practices, indigenous knowledge offers a model for rethinking and redirecting the development process, and for enlisting positive traditional values and institutions in a way that enables and empowers local actors to take part in their own development. Researchers and development agents should tap into the vital resource of indigenous knowledge for locally appropriate ways of forecasting weather systems, traditional techniques of soil management, pest and disease control, and adopting suitable crop and animal varieties.