Past global efforts at dealing with the problem of global warming concentrated on mitigation, with the aim of reducing and possibly stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere. With the slow progress in achieving this, adaptation was viewed as a viable option to reduce the vulnerability to the anticipated negative impacts of global warming. It is increasingly realized that mitigation and adaptation should not be pursued independent of each other but as complements. This has resulted in the recent calls for the integration of adaptation into mitigation strategies. However, integrating mitigation and adaptation into climate change concerns is not a completely new idea in the African Sahel. The region is characterized by severe and frequent droughts with records dating back into centuries. The local populations in this region, through their indigenous knowledge systems, have developed and implemented extensive mitigation and adaptation strategies that have enabled them reduce their vulnerability to past climate variability and change, which exceed those predicted by models of future climate change. However, this knowledge is rarely taken into consideration in the design and implementation of modern mitigation and adaptation strategies. This paper highlights some indigenous mitigation and adaptation strategies that have been practiced in the Sahel, and the benefits of integrating indigenous knowledge into formal climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Incorporating indigenous knowledge can add value to the development of sustainable climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies that are rich in local content, and planned in conjunction with local people.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Adesina FA (1988) Developing stable agroforestry systems in the tropics: an example of local agroforestry techniques from south western Nigeria. Discussion Papers in Geography 37, Department of Geography, University of Salford, United Kingdom, 27 pp
Adesina FO, Siyambola WO, Oketola FO, Pelemo DA, Ojo LO, Adegbugbe AO (1999) Potentials of agroforestry for climate change mitigation in Nigeria: some preliminary estimates. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 8:163–173
Adugna G (1996) The dynamics of knowledge systems versus sustainable development. Indigenous Knowl Dev Monit 4(2):31–32
Ajibade LT, Shokemi OO (2003) Indigenous approaches to weather forecasting in Asa LGA, Kwara State, Nigeria. Indilinga Afr J Indigenous Knowl Syst 2:37–44
Benson C, Clay EJ (1998) The impact of drought on sub-Saharan economies. The World Bank Tech Paper No. 401, World Bank, Washington, DC
Brooks N (1999) Dust–climate interactions in the Sahel-Sahara zone with particular reference to late 20th century Sahel drought. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of East Anglia, available online at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/∼e118/thesis/thesis.html
Cohen S, Demeritt J, Robinson J, Rothman D (1998) Climate change and sustainable development: towards dialogue. Glob Environ Change 8(4):341–371
Dai A, Lamb PJ, Trenberth KE, Hulme M, Jones PD, Xie P (2004) The recent Sahel drought is real, submitted to Int J Climate Change, available online from http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/adai/publication-dai.html
Davidson OR (1998) The climate convention and Kyoto agreements: opportunities for Africa. In: Mackenzie GA, Turkson JK, Davidson OR (eds) Climate change mitigation in Africa, Proceedings of an International Conference, Elephant Hills, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 18–20 May
Davies S, Ebbe K (1995) Traditional knowledge and sustainable development. Environmentally Sustainable Development Proceedings Series No. 4, held at the World Bank in September 1993, World Bank, Washington, DC
FAO (1998) Report on the development of food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping systems (FIVIMS). Committee On World Food Security, Rome, Italy, available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/W8497e.htm
Floyd B (1969) Eastern Nigeria: a geographical review. Frederick A. Praeger, New York
Howes M (1980) The use of indigenous technical knowledge in development. In: Brokensha DW, Werner O, Warren DM (eds) Indigenous knowledge systems and development. University Press of America Inc., Lanham, MD
Hulme M, Doherty R, Ngara T, New M, Lister D (2001) African climate change: 1900–2100. Climate Res 17:145–168
Hunn E (1993) What is traditional ecological knowledge? In: Williams N, Baines G (eds) Traditional ecological knowledge: wisdom for sustainable development. Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, ANU, Canberra, pp 13–15
Karjalainen T, Kellomški S, Pussinen A (1994) Role of wood-based products in absorbing atmospheric carbon. Silva Fennica 28(2):67–80
Klein RJT, Schipper EL, Dessai S (2003) Integrating mitigation and adaptation into climate and development policy: three research questions. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Working Paper 40
Klein RJT, Smith JB (2003) Enhancing the capacity of developing countries to adapt to climate change: a policy-relevant research agenda. In: Smith JB, Klein RJT, Huq S (eds) Climate change, adaptive capacity and development. Imperial College Press, London, UK, pp 317–401
Michaelowa A (2001) Mitigation versus adaptation: the political economy of competition between climate policy strategies and the consequences for developing countries. HWWA Discussion Paper 153, Hamburg Institute of International Economics, Hamburg, Germany
Mortimore M (1998) Roots in the African dust: sustaining the sub-Saharan drylands. Cambridge University Press
Mortimore M (2000) Profile of rainfall change and variability in the Kano-Maradi region: 1960–2000. Drylands Research Centre, Somerset, UK, Working Paper 25
Mundy P, Compton L (1991) Indigenous communication and indigenous knowledge. Dev Commun Report 74(3):1–3
Nyong AO, Kanaroglou PS (1999) Domestic water demand in rural semi-arid north-eastern Nigeria: identification of determinants and implications for policy. Environ Plan A 34(4):145–158
Oba G (1997) Pastoralists’ traditional drought coping strategies in Northern Kenya. A Report for the Government of the Netherlands and the Government of Kenya, Euroconsult BV, Arnheim and Acacia Consultants Ltd, Nairobi
Osunade MA (1994) Indigenous climate knowledge and agricultural practices in Southwestern Nigeria. Malays J Trop Geogr 1:21–28
Phillips AO, Titilola T (1995) Indigenous knowledge systems and practices: case studies from Nigeria. NISER, Ibadan, Nigeria
Robinson J, Herbert D (2001) Integrating climate change and sustainable development. Int J Glob Environ Issues 1(2):130–148
Schafer J (1989) Utilizing indigenous agricultural knowledge in the planning of agricultural research projects designed to aid small-scale farmers. In: Warren DM, Slikkerveer LJ, Titilola SO (eds) Indigenous knowledge systems: implications for agriculture and international development. Studies in Technology and Social Change No. 11, Technology and Social Change Program, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Stainback GA, Alavalapati J (2002) Economic analysis of slash pine forest carbon sequestration in the southern US. J For Econ 8:105–117
Swart R, Robinson J, Cohen S (2003) Climate change and sustainable development: expanding the options. Climate Policy 3S1:S19–S40
Tarhule A, Lamb PJ (2003) Climate research and seasonal forecasting for West Africans: perceptions, dissemination, and use. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 84:1741–1759
UNFCCC (1992) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, A/AC.237/18, 9 May
Warren DM (1991) Using indigenous knowledge in agricultural development. World Bank Discussion Paper No.127, The World Bank, Washington, DC
Warren DM (1992) Strengthening indigenous Nigerian organizations and associations for rural development: the case of Ara Community. Occasional Paper No. 1, African Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge, Ibadan
Westing AH (1994) Population, desertification and migration. Environ Conserv 21:109–114
Wilbanks TJ, Kane SM, Leiby PN, Periack RD, Settle C, Shogen JF, Smith JB (2003) Integrating mitigation and adaptation as possible responses to global climate change. Environment 45/5:28–38
Woodley E (1991) Indigenous ecological knowledge systems and development. Agric Human Values 8:173–178
Yohe G (2001) Mitigative capacity—the mirror image of adaptive capacity on the emissions side. Climatic Change 49(3):247–262
The authors acknowledge the support of AIACC in writing this paper. Anthony Nyong is currently supported by START as a Visiting Scientist at the Stockhom Environment Institute, Oxford.
About this article
Cite this article
Nyong, A., Adesina, F. & Osman Elasha, B. The value of indigenous knowledge in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in the African Sahel. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 12, 787–797 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-007-9099-0
- Indigenous knowledge
- Sustainable development