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Title: Exploiting indigenous knowledge commonwealth to mitigate disasters: from the archives of vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe
Authors: Lunga, Wilfred
Musarurwa, Charles
Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge;Technology;Disaster mitigation;Disaster risk reduction;Zimbabwe
Issue Date: Jan-2016
Publisher: NISCAIR-CSIR, India
IPC Code: Int. Cl.8: E04H 9/00, E04H 9/16, G08
Abstract: This research explored the relationship between vulnerability and the use of indigenous knowledge in mitigating disasters particularly those linked to food security and preservation of forest resources in some communities in Zimbabwe. This focus on provision of food was important since food issues have an immediate impact on communities and for vulnerable communities forest resources are also linked to food security. Data was collected through both formal and informal interviews, and group discussions with the elderly and traditional leaders in Matebeleland and Mashonaland provinces of Zimbabwe, hence a qualitative research approach was used. Although the findings are unique to the communities involved, it is important to note that vulnerable communities do possess a wide range of indigenous measures to mitigate disaster risk. Firstly, it is the realisation that technology does not necessarily refer to modern or objective science, but solutions that lead to sustainable livelihoods for local communities, which include environmentally based early warning signs which allow them to take precautions before a disaster like drought, flood, pests, etc., occurs as well as measures to reduce the impact of such a disaster. Secondly, production, harvesting and conservation have always been inbuilt in the farming techniques of these rural communities and mushrooms that form a regular part of the diet and provide protein for rural communities are a good example. Since time immemorial they have always been preserved within their natural habitats and women who have always been able to distinguish edible mushrooms from toxic ones have always known how to stimulate their growth by applying crop waste or ash as fertilizers to the ground on which they grow. Lastly it is natural for some indigenous techniques to lie dormant as if they are extinct. This is because every generation makes its own contribution to improvise and adapt the knowledge system in line with the ever changing climatic conditions. The article recommends that since the proportion of non-sustainable practices in traditional knowledge systems is much smaller than the benefits accrued through its use in the contemporary modern life and belief systems, there should be development, use and adaption of technologies that have links with indigenous knowledge systems. Developing contextually relevant educational processes that identify and build upon local knowledge and expertise for disaster risk reduction is needed and where possible, expressed in local language and context. In short vulnerable villagers should have more legitimate authority over natural resources for they are more responsive than local government authorities.
Page(s): 22-29
ISSN: 0975-1068 (Online); 0972-5938 (Print)
Appears in Collections:IJTK Vol.15(1) [January 2016]

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