Documenting Indigenous Knowledge of Climate Change, Coping and Mitigation Mechanisms: The Case of the Niger-Delta, Nigeria

Onwuemele Andrew


The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2013) confirms that the global climate is already changing with implications for ecosystems and human livelihoods.The report indicates that communities who live in marginal lands and whose livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources are among those highly vulnerable to climate change. In the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria where the study is based, environmental and climatic changes are not new to the indigenous people due to the fragile nature of their environment. The region is characterized by perennial flooding, high temperatures, salt water intrusion and sea level rise and the  magnitude and intensity of which have been on the increase in recent time. Studies have shown that local communities in the region have successfully achieved some level of sustainable livelihoods in the face of these changing environmental and climate conditions using indigenous knowledge. However, indigenous knowledge systems have been neglected in climate change policy formulation and implementation in Nigeria. Indigenous people, who have survived over long periods to many kinds of environmental changes, including climate change have valuable lessons to offer about successful and unsuccessful adaptations which could be vital in the context of climate change. Also, integrating knowledge of the beneficiaries of a given programme is necessary, if such programmes are to find support amongst the targeted population. Despite bearing the brunt of climate change impacts, local communities are hardly involved in decision making and policy formulation. This deliberate exclusion has stymied adaptation and mitigation projects from achieving their goals in this respect. This paper explores and documents this indigenous knowledge in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected for the study. Data collected were analysed using Statistical Packages of the Social science (SPSS) while the FGD were content analysed. The results reveal relevant indigenous knowledge of climate change and plethora of viable traditional coping and mitigation strategies of climate change impacts. The paper calls for active participation of local communities in the formulation of climate change adaptation and mitigation policies at the state and national levels.

Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge, Climate Change, Coping, Mitigation, Niger-Delta, Nigeria

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ISSN (Paper)2224-607X ISSN (Online)2225-0565

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