Opinion Paper

Harnessing local traditional authorities as a potential strategy to combat the vagaries of climate change in Zimbabwe

Happwell Musarandega, Wisemen Chingombe, Rajendran Pillay
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 10, No 1 | a651 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v10i1.651 | © 2018 Happwell Musarandega | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 March 2018 | Published: 25 September 2018

About the author(s)

Happwell Musarandega, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Wisemen Chingombe, School of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Mpumalanga, South Africa
Rajendran Pillay, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Fort Hare, South Africa


While the devastating vagaries of climate change are ravaging communities the world over, especially in Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular, the role of traditional authorities is being overlooked. This paper argues for a relentless push towards the unimpeded involvement of local traditional authorities (LTAs) in the mobilisation of rural communities to adopt appropriate climate change adaptation practices in Zimbabwe. Given its complexity and uniqueness, external intervention through government and non-governmental agents alone can hardly foster climate change adaptation particularly at local levels within communities. Traditional leaders, who have for a long time been useful in the governance of people in various rural communities, can play a supportive role in climate change adaptation. Traditional leaders do not only serve as governance authorities but also know the traditional strategies of combating the negative effects of climate change. Despite the pressure from political interference and the advent of western technological advancement, a lot could still be done to buttress the authority and respect vested in chiefs, headsmen and village heads in the country. LTAs have the power to manage grassroots communities; hence they can be utilised as drivers in the use of traditional climate change adaptation strategies. The paper concludes that political interference is one challenge faced by abusing traditional leadership as a means to gain political mileage. The paper recommends for extended capacity building on the part of traditional leaders to improve their knowledge base. This will enable them to appreciate the integration of indigenous and modern climate change adaptation strategies. It further recommends the revitalisation of the traditional council (Dare raMambo) to deal with environmental offenses with the scope of assisting government efforts to ensure sound ecological practices within communities.


local traditional authorities; climate change adaptation; capacity building


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