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Zimbabwe Indigenous Knowledge Systems Critical in Tackling El Nino

FILE: Some villagers attempting to save a cow stuck in mud at the height of a devastating drought in Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe.
FILE: Some villagers attempting to save a cow stuck in mud at the height of a devastating drought in Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has been urged to combine indigenous knowledge systems and conventional ways of tackling El Nino and other weather conditions likely to cause severe droughts and floods in most countries this year and in 2016.

Professor Peter Mundy of the National University of Science and Technology and development expert Vumani Ndlovu of Rural Communities Empowerment Trust believe that government should assist in preparing for such devastating weather conditions.

Millions of people in eastern and southern Africa are facing droughts and floods due to the El Nino weather condition.

UNICEF estimates that at least 11 million children in these regions who will be vulnerable to diseases like malaria, diarrhea, cholera and dengue fever.

Ndlovu said the state should use extension workers in highlighting El Nino challenges. “It is the duty of the government to educate people on alternative crops given the changing weather patterns.”

Professor Mundy agreed, noting that there should be a better integration of all knowledge about farming within the country. “And as you know (President Robert) Mugabe and his government in 2000 chased all the farmers who a lot of farming knowledge in particular they knew a lot about irrigation farming and in communal lands there is little if any irrigation so which means you must depend on rain-fed agriculture and when the rain will become less you are in a problem.”

He said there is need for government to recall white commercial farmers who were forced to abandon their land in order to boost irrigation and other agricultural fields.

Professor Mundy and Ndlovu noted that there should be some integration of indigenous knowledge systems and conventional farming methods in order to tackle El Nino and fight against perennially problematic quelea birds and the devastating armyworm.

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At the same time, Binga Rural District Council chairperson, Dube Mukombwe, said government was not doing enough to concientize locals about the effects of El Nino.

"There is nothing that we are getting from the government in terms of information about this El Nino. We need to know what is taking place in order to prepare for any disaster," said Mukombwe.

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El Nino is caused by the warming of the Pacific Ocean and not climate change though there some believe that this weather condition may be intensifying due to global warming.

International focus on climate change is being largely driven by the Conference of Parties (COP), comprising 191 nations, which sets targets and champions the implementation of strategies for controlling global warming. This year’s conference on climate change organized by COP will be held in Paris, France.