AFRICAN INDIGENOUS DROUGHT MANAGEMENT
SYSTEMS IN THE NORTH-WEST PROVINCE
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE NGAKA MODIRI
MOLEMA DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY-
R. H. Matonkonyane & J.H. Drummond
Indigenous Knowledge Systems Programme &
Department of Geography & Environmental
North West University (Mafikeng Campus)
Rationale & Overview
Understanding environmental change and drought
impacts over time is difficult due to resource constraints.
A significant resource of baseline studies exists with
regard to the four villages of Disaneng, Dinokana, Ga-
Khunwana and Madibogo in the Ngaka Modiri Molema
These studies are focused on the interplay of drought
and socio-economic response.
The results of research work on coping strategies in
Madibogo follow in this tradition.
A lacuna is identified in terms of the failure to consider
Indigenous Knowledge Systems.
Further research must incorporate indigenous drought
management systems into mainstream policy and
Africa including South Africa, is vulnerable to climate
changes because they affect:
– Water resources (drought).
– Food security (declines in agricultural production)
– Biodiversity resources (Loss).
– Vector and water-borne diseases (use of unsafe water
and poor hygiene).
– Coastal zones (rise in sea-levels) and floods.
– Exacerbation of desertification by changes in rainfall
patterns and intensified land use.
Madibogo results – socio-economic impacts
Loss of income
Loss of seasonal/temporary jobs on white farms
Increased vulnerability to disease
Madibogo results -drought coping strategies
Community cohesion through prayers for rain
Selling livestock to buy food
Government aid – drought relief public work programmes
Piece work eg collecting and selling wood, transporting
Migrate to towns and cities
Reconceptualising the problem
African local communities have over the years
developed different indigenous disaster management
systems including early warning systems for
sustainable community livelihood.
Colonialism and apartheid system, marginalized these
African local knowledge systems in favour of western
disaster management systems.
Current western natural disaster management systems
on flood and drought are based on crisis management
– characterized by poor coordination;
– poorly targeted to drought stricken social groups
– Often unreliable and irrelevant to the local
– very costly to maintain due to use of sophisticated
technologies which are not affordable and
sustainable in poor communities and countries;
Incorporating indigenous drought management
To make a critical interrogation of western-oriented
drought management systems and their limitations in the
North West province and the study area in particular;
To identify African indigenous drought management
systems in the study area and North West in general;
Investigate the strengths and limitations of African
indigenous drought management systems in the study
To examine the knowledge and attitudes of local
communities in the study area towards African indigenous
drought management systems;
To investigate possibilities of interfacing modern and
African indigenous drought management systems for
sustainable community livelihood and development.
Increasing realization among researchers, policy
makers, development agencies on the importance of
indigenous natural disaster management systems in
drought and floods.
African indigenous disaster management systems in
issues of drought, floods, etc. are sustainable because
they are based on local knowledge and technology
systems, reliable, affordable and culturally appropriate.
Although the study area has not suffered a major
drought since the early 1990s it is forecast by climate
change modeling scenarios that increasing aridity in this
part of southern Africa will be a likely outcome of global
Policy makers must consider this now and incorporate
an appreciation of indigenous drought management
Further Research Questions
Further research will conduct a critical investigation of African
indigenous drought management systems in the North-West
Province with special reference to the Ngaka Modiri Molema District
Further work will focus on the following questions:
– What are Western oriented drought management systems and
their limitations in drought management in the North West
province and the study area in particular?
– What are African indigenous drought management systems in
the study area and North West in general?
– What are the strengths and limitations of African indigenous
drought management systems in the study area?
– What are the knowledge and attitudes on African indigenous
drought management systems within the local communities?
– Are there possibilities of interfacing modern and African
indigenous drought management systems for sustainable