Original Research

Indigenous practices of environmental sustainability in the Tonga community of southern Zambia

Kennedy M. Kanene
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 8, No 1 | a331 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v8i1.331 | © 2016 Kennedy M. Kanene | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 April 2016 | Published: 03 November 2016

About the author(s)

Kennedy M. Kanene, Department of Languages and Social Sciences Education, University of Botswana, Botswana


Culture plays a significant role in conserving the environment. The purpose of this study was to explore the measures that have been employed by the Tonga people of southern Zambia to sustain their local biophysical environment. The research focussed on investigating the strategies which they use to conserve the soil, water, animals, medicinal and fruit plants, and rangeland. A qualitative research design was used in the study. The data were collected through interviews with elderly Tonga people and herbalists, and through observation and personal participation in the daily life of the Tongas. The study reveals that selective harvesting, totemism and taboos, organic farming, crop rotation and intercropping, sacredness of water sources and traditional authority are the main instruments of environmental conservation amongst the Tonga. The article concludes that governments, policymakers and environmentalists need to give the conservation strategies employed by indigenous people the prominence they deserve for environmental sustainability.


environmental sustainability; biophysical; totem; culture; Tonga; conservation


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