Integrating local indigenous knowledge to enhance risk reduction and adaptation strategies to drought and climate variability: The plight of smallholder farmers in Chirumhanzu district, Zimbabwe

Jamba. 2020 Dec 15;12(1):924. doi: 10.4102/jamba.v12i1.924. eCollection 2020.


This article focuses on drought risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies adopted by rural households to sustain their livelihood activities. The overall objective was to understand the local household's responses to the changing climate especially drought. The study was carried out in Chirumhanzu district in Zimbabwe and used a mixed methods approach combining 217 household surveys, targeted focus group discussions, participatory learning actions methods, key informant interviews and a document review. Household data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences and thematic content analysis was used for the qualitative data. We found that the majority of households showed awareness of several risk reduction and adaptation strategies to implement during and/or when drought was predicted, with 56% of the respondents stating stocking of grain as initial strategy. Other strategies adopted at household level included early planting (at first rains), conservation farming, planting small grains and dry planting. Indigenous and traditional knowledge systems and practices, including local people's holistic view of the community and environment, were a major resource for adapting to climate change and drought risks. However, these indigenous knowledge systems and practices had not been consistently used in the existing adaptation and risk-reduction efforts. Indigenous knowledge was not sufficiently acknowledged and integrated into formal risk reduction and adaptation strategies, which resulted in limited success for external interventions. There is need for integration of local and indigenous knowledge systems and external interventions to build household livelihoods that are resilient to climate risks.

Keywords: Zimbabwe; adaptation; climate risks; climate variability; drought risk reduction; indigenous knowledge systems; livelihoods.

Publication types

  • Review