Original Research

Indigenous knowledge approach in maintaining a livelihood in the face of disastrous climate change: Case of drought in Msinga villages, KwaZulu-Natal

Joseph R. Rukema, Beatrice S. Umubyeyi
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 11, No 1 | a758 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v11i1.758 | © 2019 Joseph R. Rukema, Beatrice S. Umubyeyi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 October 2018 | Published: 14 November 2019

About the author(s)

Joseph R. Rukema, School of Social Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Beatrice S. Umubyeyi, School of Built Environment and Development Studies, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


The aim of this study is to explore and examine the ways of maintaining livelihoods of communities in the face of extreme climatic conditions using indigenous knowledge systems. Special attention was paid to drought prevailing in the Msinga village communities in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal. This is a qualitative study. In order to achieve its objectives, this study used semi-structured interviews. In total, there were 16 participants from the Msinga villages. The findings demonstrated that droughts are endemic to the study area, and drought-management strategies are as intrinsic to local livelihood systems as are seasonal-adjustment strategies. The findings also indicated that communities in Msinga have knowledge of drought management. However, this knowledge contributes very little to the management of drought. Limitations in traditional knowledge that contribute effectively to drought management are due to a number of factors including conflicts between traditional knowledge and modern science. This implied that most young people are no longer interested in traditional knowledge but are more interested in modern science. Furthermore, government programmes and interventions hamper the efforts of traditional knowledge in dealing with the consequences of drought and thereby make the community vulnerable to drought.


indigenous; approach; livelihood; disastrous; climate change; Msinga; KwaZulu-Natal province; South Africa


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