Repository logo

African indigenous food security strategies and climate change adaptation in South Africa.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The study used predominantly a qualitative and participatory research design to investigate the African Indigenous Food Security Strategies and Climate Change Adaptation in Ganyesa village (North-West Province). Qualitative research methods such as in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, direct and participatory observation formed the core of data collection methods. This enabled the researcher to interact meaningfully with the respondent IK holders and practitioners in the research process. In consultation with the community leaders a purposive sample of 40 key informants (15 men and 25 women) as IK holders and practitioners was selected for the study. Emphasis was put on women IK holders and practitioners as the custodians of IKS related to food security for climate change adaption. They were the main subsistence farmers who ensured food security for their households and the community in changing climatic conditions. Moreover, contrary to western ways of knowing and knowledge production, the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the respondent IK holders and practitioners such as age group, marital status, etc. and other relevant data were collected and interpreted from their own cultural perspectives and in their local indigenous language Setswana. This was to ensure that cultural meanings are not distorted and lost. The study found that subsistence farming methods such as mixed cropping including keeping of livestock, hunting and gathering constituted main sources of food supply in changing climate conditions in the arid environment of the study area. It was also revealed that the respondent women IK holders and practitioners had a rich and wide knowledge of selecting appropriate seeds and animal species for different seasons and climatic conditions; use of wind patterns, position of stars and behavior of living organisms, early warning systems and indicators for changing climatic conditions. However, during focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, it was found that one of the major limitations for IKS sustainability in the study community was the lack of interest among the younger generations in IKS. This was due to exposure to western knowledge systems and the impact of globalization through mass media. The study recommends that existing indigenous knowledge on food security systems for climate change adaptation in the community should be documented. This is meant to ensure its sustainability, protection and to be shared with younger generation including extension workers and policy makers. Documentation will also assist in identification of gaps which could be improved through interface with other knowledge systems to meet the challenges of globalization. These knowledge systems should also be introduced in the formal educational system and developmental policy including agricultural campaigns to promote public knowledge and awareness on the importance of IKS for sustainable development and livelihood. The role of gender should be taken seriously in the documentation, promotion and interface of IKS with other knowledge and technology. This is to ensure that they are not marginalized further and alienated.


M.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2014.


Food security--South Africa., Climatic changes--North-West., Climate change mitigation--North-West., Ethnoscience--North-West., Theses--Anthropology.