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Integration of indigenous knowledge systems in sustaining water security for cattle in resource-limited communities.

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The broad objective of the study was to assess the integration of indigenous knowledge systems in sustaining water security for cattle production in resource-limited communities. Cattle production in resource-limited communities contributes enormously to their everyday livelihoods however it is threatened by frequent occurrence of drought. A total of eight key informant interviews constituting of indigenous knowledge custodians between ages of >60 years old were conducted in Musina, Vhembe District Municipality, Limpopo and eight key informant interviews with indigenous knowledge custodians between ages of >60 years old were conducted in Umhlabuyalingana, Umkhanyakude District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Four focus group discussions with adult males and females, age >25 years and youth males and females, age =<25 years old. A total of 284 structured questionnaires were administered in two local municipalities of Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. In Umhlabuyalingana interviews listed the rejection of indigenous knowledge as a contributing factor to water security challenges. Water shortages forced cattle to travel long distances to water sources. Water security challenges cause weight loss, low productivity and mortalities. The integration of IKS into conventional methods was suggested in Umhlabuyalingana by elderly farmers unlike in Musina to assist curb water insecurity. Integration of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and conventional knowledge (CK) was encouraged in Umhlabuyalingana (11 %) as compared to Musina (1 %). Musina farmers preferred CK (25 %) over IKS. The odds of youth (P < 0.05) being open to the idea of integration of IKS and CK was seven times more than the adults. The association between cattle ownership and the use of IKS in Umhlabuyalingana differed (P < 0.01), farmers (35 %) that owned cattle used IKS more than farmers who owned cattle in Musina (18 %). Male farmers from Umhlabuyalingana (55 %) preferred to feed natural pastures during drought periods unlike farmers from Musina who preferred using commercial feeds and crop residues. Therefore, a study was conducted to assess the effect of using different cow-calf management systems on time budgets during droughts in Domboni village, Vhembe District, Musina. Four nondescript lactating cows from each management practice were used. Extensive managed cows spent 2.2 hours/day more (P < 0.05) walking to water points as compared to semi-extensive managed cows (0.7 ± 0.15 hours/day) during drought periods. Semi-extensive cows spent 3.4 hours/day more time feeding (P < 0.05) compared to extensive managed cows (47 ± 3.53 %). In conclusions drought poses as a threat to cattle and the lack of IKS use. Indigenous knowledge still has hope to upsurge and the youth is showing interest. The use of natural and crop residue for feed increases the possibilities of integrating IKS and CK. The semi-extensive management practices were viable for the cows as they travelled less and spent more time eating while extensive managed cows invested their time walking to water points and feeding points. Keywords: Distance, weight loss, low productivity, mortalities, youth, extensive, semi-extensive, feeding.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.