The Relevance of Indigenous Knowledge to Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
Indigenous knowledge is the knowledge that people in a given community have developed overtime, and continues to develop. It is based on the experience, often tested over centuries of use, adapted to local culture and environment, dynamic and changing. People have an intimate knowledge of many aspects of their surroundings and their daily lives. Over centuries, people have learnt how to grow food and to survive in difficult environments. They know what varieties of crops to plant, when to sow and weed, which plants are poisonous, which can be used for control of diseases in plants, livestock and human beings. Indigenous knowledge is passed from generation to generation usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation and conservation, health care, education, and a wide range of other activities that sustain a society and its environment in many parts of the world for many centuries. This paper introduces indigenous knowledge as a significant resource that could contribute to the increased efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of the development process. It highlights indigenous knowledge as the basis for community level decision making in areas pertaining to food security, human and animal health, educational resource management and other vital economic and social activities. This valuable and sophisticated knowledge is validated over time in a way that is different to western empirical system. This paper thus discusses the valuable contributions of the use of indigenous knowledge in sustainable development without cost or damage to the environment.
Keyword: Indigenous knowledge, culture, sustainable development, sub-Saharan Africa