African Journal of Sustainable Development

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Towards sustainable adaptation to climate change: The role of indigenous knowledge in Nigeria and Ghana

CAO Akinbami, C Ifeanyi-Obi, DO Appiah, AT Kabo-Bah


Climate change has been identified as a threat to poverty reduction and economic growth, and it may erode many of the development gains made in recent decades. From the short to the long term, climate change and variability threaten human and social development by altering customary means of livelihood and restricting the fulfilment of human potential. In all these, indigenous people are the most affected, considering their high vulnerability level. In view of this, such people find it difficult to adapt to climate variability and change as well as other environmental changes. Not only is the viability of indigenous livelihoods threatened, due to food insecurity, lack of potable water and poor health, but also the cultural integrity is also  undermined. This study assessed the various sustainable indigenous adaptation strategies being utilised in the respective countries to combat the adverse effects of climate variability and change; and also, examined how sustainable the adaptation strategies were. The study employed the use of quantitative and qualitative methods to elicit information from the respondents from Ghana and Nigeria. The results  indicate that there are major international differences but that adaptation strategies taken among indigenous people in the respective countries are similar. Indigenous people are resorting to soil-water conservation, identification of resistant crops to prevailing climate, use of appropriate techniques and chemicals for improving soil fertility, improvised harvesting techniques, and strategic planting periods for their crops. In most cases also, local people also embark on alternative livelihood options to support income levels of their households. The authors strongly recommend extension services and introduction of scientific technologies to complement indigenous knowledge approaches.

Keywords: sustainable practices, adaptation strategies, indigenous knowledge, climate change

AJOL African Journals Online