Local knowledge and adaptation to climate change in Ouémé valley, Benin
AbstractClimate change is today a major threat to sustainable development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, that is anticipated to be most vulnerable because of low adaptive capacity and high dependency on climate sensitive
resources such as water resources and ecological systems. This paper highlights the local dimension of adaptation to climate change and the importance of local knowledge in adaptation planning. Generally, adaptation and mitigation are the main known approaches to address climate threats. Indeed, climate change is an international concern, while the benefits of adaptation are local, as opposed to mitigation. Also like climate, climate change adaptation is a dynamic and evolving process which the main determinant is the degree of vulnerability. A case study of farmers’ strategies for adapting to climate vulnerability in the low valley of Ouémé showed that local people have developed a remarkable ability to adapt to climate threats, or in some cases have turned threats into
opportunities. From fishing practices to agricultural techniques through agro-fishing practices, people of low valley of Ouémé managed to take advantage of their natural vulnerability through adaptation strategies mainly based on local knowledge. In fact, the trend of these local strategies confirms the dynamic nature of adaptation to climate change mainly determined by the extent of vulnerability caused by continued depletion of the environment. But given that this dynamic can sometimes lead to maladaptation, it is necessary that local people are assisted in their coping strategies, even if a synergy is needed between local institutions and national and international framework for the successful adaptation to climate change.