Original Research

The role of indigenous knowledge in drought risk reduction: A case of communal farmers in South Africa

Fummi Muyambo, Yonas T. Bahta, Andries J. Jordaan
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 9, No 1 | a420 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v9i1.420 | © 2017 Fummi Muyambo, Yonas T. Bahta, Andries J. Jordaan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2016 | Published: 27 July 2017

About the author(s)

Fummi Muyambo, Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa, University of the Free State, South Africa
Yonas T. Bahta, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of the Free State, South Africa
Andries J. Jordaan, Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa, University of the Free State, South Africa


Even though the significance of indigenous knowledge in agriculture is internationally recognised, the role thereof in disaster risk reduction in South Africa is not well documented. This article determined the influence of indigenous knowledge in drought risk reduction in O.R. Tambo district of the Eastern Cape province (South Africa). Primary data were collected from 87 communal farmers through purposive sampling using a structured questionnaire. Focus group discussions were also held with the target group (farmers and extension officers) to gain more information and clarification on indigenous knowledge. The finding indicated that the majority of respondents (64.4%) relied on indigenous knowledge in their farming practice and drought risk reduction. Two-thirds (66.7%) of the respondents revealed that indigenous knowledge contributed to the resilience of farmers towards drought. The respondents unanimously agreed that indigenous knowledge is losing its significance in farming and drought risk reduction, because the younger generation did not value it anymore. Lack of documentation and deterioration of its application by the younger generation were found to be the main challenge for most respondents. The study concluded that indigenous knowledge was still an integral part of agricultural practices, applied drought risk reduction strategies and contributed to resilience against disasters. Based on the findings, the study recommends that indigenous knowledge be compiled, documented and published so that all farmers can learn of effective farming practices, passed on from generation to generation. Community holders of such information are encouraged to make younger generations aware of the benefits of indigenous knowledge to promote its usage.


indigenous knowledge; drought risk reduction; generation; communal farmers


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