Climate change and the efforts of indigenous people in adaptation and mitigation inTukuyu, Mbeya-Rungwe District Tanzania

Climate change and Indigenous people

Bachelor Thesis, 2011

67 Pages








1.0 Introduction
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Objectives of the study
1.3.1 General objective
1.3.2 Specific objectives
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Conceptual framework
1.6 Scope of the study
1.7 Significance of the study
1.8 Expected challenges

2.0 Introduction
2.1 What is climate change?
2.2 Indigenous people and Climate change.
2.3 Indigenous people’s perceptions on climate change.
2.4 Some indigenous practices and knowledge used in adaptation and mitigation of the climate change impacts

3.0 Introduction
3.1 Study Design
3.2 Study Area
3.2.1 Location and Area
3.2.2 Population
3.3 Sample size and sampling procedure
3.4 Data collection tools
3.4.1 Interviews
3.4.2 Observation
3.4.3 Analysis of documents/records
3.5 Data processing and analysis

4.1 The Indigenous people’s level of awareness and understanding of the issue of climate change and its impacts in Tukuyu.
4.1.1 Students
4.1.2 Teachers
4.1.3 Famers
4.1.4 Business men/women
4.2 Indigenous knowledge and practices used in adaptation and mitigation of the climate change impacts in Tukuyu.
4.3 The efforts of the government in promotion of indigenous knowledge to be used in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts in Tukuyu.

5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Recommendations
5.2.1 Government
5.2.2 Farmers
5.2.3 Non-governmental Organisation
5.2.4 Extension Officers
5.2.5 Researchers




This report is dedicated to my father Mr. Geoffrey K. Mwasakatili and my mother Mrs. Siana Mwasakatili who have sacrificed a lot for my education up to this level.


I thank God for His blessing in every step I take in my life, all I achieve today its all about Him.

My grateful thanks to my supervisor Ms. Anne Tumushabe for her amazing assistance and patience through the whole time of my research. Thanks to all my lectures who taught me to be as smart as I can in my day to day academic and communal activities. My fellow students and all classmates may God bless them for their company and challenges.

Special thanks to all the administration of Rungwe District Municipal Council particularly the department of environment for their support and assistance during the whole process of data collection.

Lastly, I am thankful and grateful to my parents for their true love and affection, for their great support in term of financial, moral, prayers and awesome encouragements which enabled me to be whom I am today. My brothers and sisters Dr. Emmanuel G. Mwakapasa, Mr. Isack G. Mwakapasa, Mrs. Atupokile Machwa and Mrs. Nitike Mwasanga respectively I thank them for being there for me always. I am real thankful and may God bless you.


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Figure 1: Conceptual framework

Figure 2:Temperature data of the last 420,000 years

Figure 3:(3a &3b); Depiction of the Absorption and Emission of Radiation

Figure 4: Indigenous people’s level of awareness and understanding of the issue of climate change and its impacts in Tukuyu

Figure 5: Indigenous knowledge and practices used in adaptation and mitigation of the climate change impacts in Tukuyu

Figure 6: The efforts of the government in promotion of indigenous knowledge to be used in adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts in Tukuyu


Normally at the absolute bottom of the social strata, whether in rich or poor countries, are the indigenous or native peoples who are generally the least powerful, most neglected groups in the world.

In many countries these indigenous people are repressed by traditional caste systems, discriminatory laws, economics, or prejudice. Unique cultures are disappearing along with biological diversity as natural habitats are destroyed to satisfy industrialised world appetites for resources. According to Nyong and Kanaroglou indigenous people are the more vulnerable to climate change impacts (Nyong and Kanaroglou 1999), thus there is need to consider their culture and their knowledge using to adapt and mitigate effects of climate change since they are cost effective and can easily be implemented. Tukuyu being part of Tanzania in Southern high lands also witnessing impacts of climate change whereby indigenous people had never stop to air out problems they are facing induced by climate change.

The aim of this research was to identify indigenous and local observations, knowledge and practices related to understanding climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation in Tukuyu.

Samples of 48 respondents were randomly selected in four villages. The study interviewed agriculturists, students, teachers and business men/women. Data was collected using interview guide, observation checklists and reviewing of literature. Data collected was then analysed and presented in bar charts. The study showed that indigenous knowledge and practices used in adaptation and mitigation of climate change include mixed farming and multiple cropping, zero tilling practices in cultivation, contour farming, mulching, adjustments to planting dates, planting trees along water sources and Land buffer zone on sacred forests. The most knowledgeable people were teachers, followed by farmers, then students and business men/women were the least knowledgeable groups.

However it was noted that little effort is being done by the government and CBOs/ NGOs. Therefore, I recommend that there should be community awareness and education through the help of Non Governmental Organisation (NGOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and the government also the government to take more steps forward to promote indigenous and local knowledge used to fight climate change so as to help indigenous people to be less vulnerable to impacts of climate change.


Adaptation: Is the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2): CO2 is a colourless, odourless, non-poisonous gas that is a normal part of the ambient air. Of the six greenhouse gases normally targeted, CO2 contributes the most to human induced global warming. Human activities such as fossil fuel combustion and deforestation have increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by approximately 30 percent since the industrial revolution. CO2 is the standard used to determine the "global warming potentials" (GWPs) of other gases. CO2 has been assigned a 100-year GWP of 1 (i.e., the warming effects over a 100-year time frame relative to other greenhouse gases).

Carbon Sinks: Processes that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they release. Both the terrestrial biosphere and oceans can act as carbon sinks.

Carbon Taxes: A surcharge on the carbon content of oil, coal, and gas that discourages the use of fossil fuels and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate: Is the meteorological term which means the behaviour/condition of the weather of a certain place recorded over long period.

Climate change: Is the phenomena used to refer the irregular occurrences of the weather activities such as irregular seasons of the year and it occurs all over the world hence the term the Global Climate Change. It can also defined as a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

Effects of climate change: Is the change in the physical environment or biota resulting from climate change which has significant deleterious effects on the composition, resilience or productivity of natural and managed ecosystems or on the operation of socio-economic systems or on human health and welfare.

Emission: Is the release of greenhouse gases and/or their precursors into the atmosphere over a specified area and period of time.

Greenhouse Effect: The insulating effect of atmospheric greenhouse gases (e.g., water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) that keeps the Earth's temperature about 60°F warmer than it would be otherwise.

Greenhouse gases: Are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and re-emit infrared radiation.

Mitigation: Is the process of making something(s) less severe, serious, or painful.

Indigenous knowledge: It has been defined as institutionalized local knowledge that has been built upon and passed on from one generation to the other by word of mouth (Osunade 1994; Warren 1992). Is the kind of knowledge majorly transmitted to us from one generation to another in an informal ways of education, also it known as traditional knowledge. It can also be defined as the social knowledge free from scientific experiments passed from one generation to another used by local people in a given rural communities in their daily life activities.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme. The IPCC is responsible for providing the scientific and technical foundation for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); primarily through the publication of periodic assessment reports (see "Second Assessment Report" and "Third Assessment Report"). Green House Gases (GHGs) means those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, those absorbs and re-emit infrared radiation.

Unimodal rainfall: Is the type of the rainfall system whereby it rains only once a year in a given region.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): A treaty signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that calls for the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." The treaty includes a non-binding call for developed countries to return their emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The treaty took effect in March 1994 upon ratification by more than 50 countries. The United States was the first industrialized nation to ratify the Convention.

Vulnerability: The degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate change and variation to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity, and its adaptive capacity.


1.0 Introduction

This chapter looks at background of the study, problem statement, objectives of the study, research questions, hypotheses, conceptual framework, operational definitions, scope significance of the study and limitations.

1.1 Background of the study

Climate change is an environmental, social and economic challenge on a global scale (Scholze et al., 2006; Mendelsohn et al., 2006). It is emerging as one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the 12 warmest years of global surface temperature since 1850. According to the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), more intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas since the 1970s, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. The frequency of heavy precipitation events has increased over most land areas, and widespread changes in extreme temperatures have been observed over the last 50 years. Recent trends show a tendency towards greater extremes: arid or semi-arid areas in northern, western, eastern and parts of southern Africa are becoming steadily drier and increased magnitude and variability of precipitations and storms. Climate change can be exacerbated by human induced actions such as: the widespread use of land, the broad scale deforestation, the major technological and socioeconomic shifts with reduced reliance on organic fuel, and the accelerated uptake of fossil fuels (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). However, this can also be due to natural factors such as earthquake, volcanic eruption which then contribute to the emission of the Green House Gases (GHGs) into atmosphere such as Methane (MH4), Carbon dioxide (CO2), Sulphur (S) hence cause the increase of the global temperature as part of climate change.

Climate change can be appreciated by experiencing or observing its effects such as extreme drought, irregular floods event, increasing of sea level, increasing of the global temperature, melting of ice, drying of streams and water channels, irregular seasons of the year. These effects create tension to human being all over the world and start making the efforts (seeking the way forward) to mitigate the change and/or adapt the situation as the way forward to fight climate change.

In Africa climate change is a major threat to sustainable growth, development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Africa is the continent which contributes least to global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) – yet is the most vulnerable to its effects, particularly due to its high dependence on rain-fed agriculture, widespread poverty and weak capacity. The effects of climate change – reduced agricultural production, worsening food security, increased flooding and drought, spreading diseases and an increased risk of conflict over scarce land and water resources – are already evident. For example, the African Sahel is characterized by recurrent droughts, the magnitude and intensity of which have been on the increase over the last 100 years and consequently in the destruction caused by it (Benson and Clay 1998; Brooks 1999). Records show that the region has experienced marked rainfall declines and droughts that exceed those predicted by models of future climate (Hulme et al. 2001). Therefore adaptation to climate change should be understood as a continuous process which addresses current climate variability extremes and future climate risks. Over time climate change may alter general climatic conditions leading to more frequent occurrences of climate extremes.

Tanzania as one among African countries that has put forward the National Environmental Policy which then seeks to provide the framework for making fundamental changes that are needed to bring environmental considerations into the mainstream of decision making in Tanzania. It seeks to provide policy guidelines, plans and gives guidance to the determination of priority actions and provides for monitoring and regular review of policies, plans and programmes (National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) annual report, 2008). One of its specific objectives include to ensure sustainable and equitable use of resources for meeting the basic needs of the present and future generations without degrading the environment or risking health or safety, to prevent and control degradation of land, water, vegetation, and air which constitute our life support systems; to conserve and enhance our natural and man-made heritage, including the biological diversity of the unique ecosystems of Tanzania.

Tukuyu is the hillside town in Rungwe District southern highlands of Tanzania, East Africa, with population of approximately 40,000 inhabitants, lies about 36 miles (58 km) south of the city of Mbeya, at an elevation of around 5,000 ft (1,500 m) and Coordinates 9°15′S 33°39′E / 9.25°S 33.65°E / -9.25; 33.65 with time zone EAT(UTC+3).

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to forecast what the weather will be like at a certain time in a very precise place. Temperature in Tukuyu is ranging from 16 degrees Celsius in July as the minimum temperature and 21 degrees Celsius in November as the maximum temperature while average rainfall is 50mm in September as the minimum rainfall and 606mm in April as the maximum rainfall. According to Msanya the Rift Valley area of the Southern Highlands between Mbeya and Lake Nyasa like in Rwanda, have volcanic soils which are highly dependable for human use and support high densities of human population (Msanya et al., 2002). Since Tukuyu is in near rift valley within Rungwe district where Mt. Rungwe can be found, then its soil is typically volcanic soil with high amount of humus. Its vegetation dominated with forests, small trees and shrubs since it is mountainous area, other vegetation are annual and perennial grasses.

The major indigenous activities are agriculture and business, where they grow different food and cash crops such as maize, bananas, tea, avocados, rearing of animals, coffee and potatoes (both sweet and Irish potatoes). Business activities include selling of cash crops and other food products.

The area receives unimodal rainfall set on October and ends in December. Few years ago Tukuyu was ever green with a lot of trees and forests which made indigenous people to practice agriculture activities and other production related activities such as animal rearing successfully. Today indigenous people experience the effects of climate change in one way or another since the greenish view of the environment is gradually diminishing and pasture for grazing has become scarce. Agriculture activities have become fairly unstable due to long period of drought and low rainfall availability.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Climate change has lead into the increase in some crop diseases and other human diseases such as malaria due to extreme events particularly heavy rainfall, increase in temperature/sunshine (heat) and prolonged drought periods. Most crops normally fail to grow and results into great loss to farmers and shortage of food. Climate change has been one of the factors which slow down the development process of individuals and hence the whole town as well. The same challenge also exists even in other regions in Tanzania and Africa as well.

Many developmental projects are known to have been created, funded and managed by outside resources and introduced into rural communities with the hopes and promises of impacting their lives. These projects did not take into consideration the culture of the people and resulted in low participation and success rates (Howes 1980; Woodley 1991; Nyong and Kanaroglou 1999). Since indigenous people are more vulnerable to climate change then there is need of considering their culture which can then explain well their knowledge (indigenous Knowledge). The later creates a moral economy and identifies a person within a cultural context, therefore providing decision-making processes or rules of thumb to be followed based on observed indicators or relationships within events (Adugna 1996; Woodley 1991). Also indigenous knowledge systems share the same guiding principles with sustainable development framework with 3Es concerns—Economy, Equity, and Environment (Davies and Ebbe1995).

Despite this, indigenous people have come up with some ways on how to deal with the problem and these ways are in adaptation and mitigation. According to Swart et al. (2003), mitigation strategies can be grouped into two categories: some represent mainly categories: some represent mainly technological solutions; others involve changes in economic structure, societal organisation, or individual behaviour.

In the African Sahel, mitigation activities are traditionally employed as natural resources conservation measures, but they generally reserve the dual purposes of reducing the emission of GHG from anthropogenic sources and enhancing carbon ‘sink’. Strategies aimed at reducing GHG emission emphasize cutbacks in the burning of fossil fuel through improved energy-efficiency, use of clean energy particularly solar and discontinuation of a gas flaring. Carbon sink enhancement generally involves forestry programmes that protect the forest and encourage afforestation in marginal areas including range lands (Adesina et al. 1999). Adaptation strategies will include the adoption of efficient environmental resources management practices such as the planting of early maturing crops, adoption of hardy varieties of crops and selective keeping of livestock in areas where rainfall declined. They also include the use of technological products that enable the individual to function in the “new” condition. Obviously, adaptation strategies are expected to be many, and their combinations in various ways will be required in any given location. However, Mitigation and adaptation should not all be about the implementation of options; successful implementation depends on availability of various resources to create an enabling environment for mitigation and adaptation, including the capacity to adapt and mitigate (Klein and Smith 2003). Therefore the purpose of this study is to find out how the indigenous people in Tukuyu villages are using or can use their indigenous knowledge to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change, which will then ease their development processes since it will reduce their vulnerability to climate change effects.

1.3 Objectives of the study

1.3.1 General objective

To identify indigenous and local observations, knowledge and practices related to understanding climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation.

1.3.2 Specific objectives

i. To assess the indigenous people’s level of awareness and understanding of the issue of climate change and its impacts.
ii. To identify indigenous knowledge and practices used in adaptation and mitigation of the climate change impacts.
iii. To find out the efforts of the government in promotion of indigenous knowledge to be used in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts.

1.4 Research questions

- How do indigenous people understand climate change and its impacts?
- What relevant indigenous knowledge and practices do people use in adaptation and mitigation of the climate change impacts?
- What has the government done in promotion of indigenous knowledge towards adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts?

1.5 Conceptual framework

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1.6 Scope of the study

Despite the fact that efforts have been made towards fighting climate change from scientific views, but research and policies directed towards indigenous knowledge and perception are highly needed. It is, therefore, important to understand indigenous perceptions of climate change and their preferences of strategies towards adaptation.

This research is going to focus on indigenous people’s life and activities which have the impact on climate change in one way or another. The study will also look at how indigenous people are affected by climate change and what they are doing to adapt or mitigate the effects of climate change.

The study will also concentrate on examining indigenous knowledge which can be used in adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects, because devastating scenario of climate change lies with the indigenous peoples themselves, who are very successful at preventing deforestation and managing natural environment, and those in the developing countries are rarely considered (Jan and Anja, 2007).

1.7 Significance of the study

The study will help the government and other stakeholders including organisations, Institutions and indigenous people to come up with a clear picture on how the indigenous knowledge can be used in adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

Therefore different policies, theories and practices will be established so as to promote and encourage the indigenous knowledge because it is a cost effective way to combat climate change effects and it can merely be a sustainable process since it involves different groups in the society and it can easily pass from one generation to another.

The study will also encourage academicians and technicians to do further research. It is important that the indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge balance and learn from each other in order to produce ‘‘best practices’’ for mitigation and adaptation (Adugna 1996). Thus the study will open the door for more researches to be done to find out the best way of integrating the scientific knowledge and indigenous knowledge so as to improve the efficiency of the indigenous people towards adaptation and mitigation of the climate change.

1.8 Expected challenges

Although the researcher is intend to select some villages using random sampling method to represent other parts of Tukuyu, time and financial constraints may limit the study and let only few villages within Tukuyu to be reached.


2.0 Introduction

This chapter includes the findings of other researchers made on the same topic or just relevant/similar topics to what the researcher has intended to research. Also showing gaps left by other researchers and the real need of the intended research.

2.1 The indigenous people’s level of awareness and understanding of the issue of climate change and its impacts.

What is climate change ?

Climate change is a long-term shift in the statistics of the weather (including its averages). For example, it could show up as a change in climate normals (expected average values for temperature and precipitation) for a given place and time of year, from one decade to the next. We know that the global climate is currently changing. The last decade of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st have been the warmest period in the entire global instrumental temperature record, starting in the mid-19th century.

Natural variability

Climate change is a normal part of the Earth’s natural variability, which is related to interactions among the atmosphere, ocean, and land, as well as changes in the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth. The geologic record includes significant evidence for large-scale climate changes in Earth’s past. An example of this variability is shown in the plot below of temperature data for the last 420,000 years, derived from an Antarctic ice core.

Figure 2; Temperature data of the last 420,000 years

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Line plot of global mean land-ocean temperature index, 1880 to present. Individual years are plotted and the blue line is the five-year mean. (Data and plot available from NCDC at anomalies/anomalies.html).

What Causes the Earth’s Climate to Change?

The Earth’s energy balance and hence climate depends on the balance between the EM energy that enters Earth from the Sun and the EM energy that is emitted from Earth back into space. As solar energy reaches the Earth’s surface, a fraction of it is absorbed and the Earth’s surface warms up. The remaining fraction is reflected immediately off the surface back into the atmosphere and space. The surface of the Earth (land and water) that has been warmed by the radiation then emits energy back in the form of heat into the atmosphere and toward space. Since the Earth’s surface temperature is much lower than that of the Sun, it emits radiation at longer wavelengths and with energy levels much lower than that from the Sun, in this case at infrared (heat) wavelengths (not at visible wavelengths like the Sun). Thus, the higher energy, shorter-wave radiation from the Sun is effectively transformed into longer-wave radiation by the processes of absorption and emission at the Earth’s surface.

The Greenhouse Effect

This sequence of absorption of shorter-wave solar radiation and the subsequent emission of longer-wave radiation is thought of as the greenhouse effect. Comparing the Earth’s atmosphere to a greenhouse is often used to help explain the processes that maintain the Earth’s temperatures as we experience them today. The greenhouse effect is commonly portrayed as a process of heat being let in and then being “trapped”—unable to escape. This, however, is not exactly how either the Earth or a greenhouse actually works (see Figure 1). Some of the gases that make up the Earth’s atmosphere, such as water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4), only absorb radiation at particular wavelengths. These gases are mostly transparent to the shorter-wave solar radiation (visible and UV), but they absorb and emit infrared radiation. Thus, the atmosphere— like a glass greenhouse—is reasonably transparent to sunlight. Sunlight is absorbed mostly at the Earth’s surface (the land, water, and vegetation) and not into the atmosphere. Similarly, sunlight is absorbed mostly by the vegetation in the greenhouse. The Earth’s surface (or the vegetation in the greenhouse) then emits radiation back into the atmosphere. This emitted radiation is not trapped but rather is exchanged with its environment. This might seem subtle, but it is an important distinction. The exchange occurs as follows: infrared radiation is emitted from the surface and then absorbed by the atmosphere. Much of this absorption is by water vapor, less by CO2, and stills less by CH4 and other “greenhouse gases.” Clouds also absorb significant amounts of this infrared energy.

The gases in the atmosphere emit infrared radiation out to space but also back to the surface, so an exchange is taking place between the surface and atmosphere. It is this radiation that is emitted back to the surface that produces the greenhouse effect. The net result is that the mean surface temperature for the entire Earth is about 15°C, which is about 35° higher than it would be without the atmosphere. This is the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is relatively weak on Earth, but it is extreme on Venus because of its very dense atmosphere consisting mainly of CO2 (Weart 2006). This dense atmosphere traps the radiation so efficiently that Venus has an average surface temperature of about 450°C, the highest of any planet in the solar system. Mars, on the other hand, has a very thin atmosphere that provides practically no real greenhouse effect, which makes it much colder than it otherwise would be with an Earth-like atmosphere (Darling n.d.). Scientists believe that Mars, because it is smaller than the Earth, did not have sufficient gravity to hold its ancient atmosphere and the atmosphere boiled off slowly into space

(Weart 2006). Many have argued that the analogy of our climate system to a greenhouse is misleading. Although glass greenhouses do have much in common with the Earth’s atmospheric greenhouse effect, with the glass letting a high proportion of the Sun’s radiation through and inhibiting the loss of outgoing long-wave radiation from within the glass house itself, the dominant effect of an actual greenhouse is to stop wind and convection carrying the heat away, as would be the case in the open air.

Figure 3:(3a &3b); Depiction of the Absorption and Emission of Radiation (Fig. 3a) and example of a Greenhouse (Fig.3b)

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SOURCE: Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education, and Training (COMET) ( of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

The Greenhouse Gases

Naturally occurring greenhouse gases in the atmosphere include H2O, CO2, CH4, nitrous oxide (NO2), and ozone. Certain human activities, however, can add to the levels of most of these naturally occurring gases: CO2 is released into the atmosphere when solid waste, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), and wood or wood products are burned. CH4 is emitted during production and transport of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal), from the decomposition of organic wastes in municipal solid waste landfills, and in the raising of livestock. NO2 is given off primarily during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as in the combustion of solid waste and fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal).

The Earth’s Energy Balance

If the Earth and the atmosphere did not emit radiation but only absorbed radiation, the Earth and the atmosphere would continue to get hotter and hotter until it would be uninhabitable.

If more radiation were emitted than absorbed, over time the Earth would get colder and colder. Neither of these happens because the Earth is roughly in energy balance. At a particular time and place, the energy emitted by the Earth might not balance the energy absorbed by the Sun, but when averaged over the Earth’s entire surface for a long time period, the input and output of energy are nearly in balance. But the Earth is not in exact energy balance, because its surface is gradually heating up. There are several possible explanations for this: the radiation from the Sun is increasing, the subsequent heat radiation from Earth is decreasing, and the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing. It is the last of these explanations that is the most widely accepted. While all greenhouse gases may be responsible to some degree, it is the increase of CO2 that is the focus of attention. Scientists have studied past climate by looking at many different data sources. These include ice cores taken from polar regions (which can be used to measure increases and decreases in snowfall over time, as well as changes in the gases in the atmosphere as seen in trapped air bubbles); tree rings (trees grow faster—hence wider rings—in warm, moist years and slower in cold, dry ones); and coral reefs (which respond to differences in ocean temperatures, growing faster in warmer waters). There is also the human record scientists have been monitoring temperature and rainfall systematically for more than a hundred years, and anecdotal accounts of the weather over time have also been kept by common people since recorded history began. An analysis of these forms of information has shown that climate has indeed varied throughout history.

If Global Warming Is Actually Happening, What Are the Likely Consequences?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a group of scientists from around the world brought together by the United Nations every five years to assess our understanding of, and the potential impacts of, climate change. Most importantly, they identify options for lessening the rate of change and describe how societies can adapt to it. According to the IPCC (2007), the world’s surface air temperature increased an average of 0.74˚C in the 100 years between 1906 and 2005.

The IPCC also projected (based on computer models) that during the 21st century temperatures will rise much more than they did during the past century. Since temperatures will likely continue to climb, it is important to understand how the Earth responded to climate change over the past century so we can better predict how it may respond in the future. The impacts of climate change listed within this section are just a handful of those discussed in the IPCC’s Climate Change 2001 and Climate Change 2007 reports.

Sea-Level Rise

Sea level rose 5–8 inches during the 20th century a result of both the melting of glaciers and the expansion of water through increasing heat. Mountain glaciers have become much smaller during the past century, especially those in low-latitude locations like Mount Kenya in Africa and the Andes in South America. Ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are also melting and contributing to sea level rise (IPCC 2007). Computer models predict a range of possible changes in sea level over the course of the 21st century, from 7 inches to as much as 23 inches (IPCC 2007). While the smaller projections would have relatively modest impacts, the higher projections suggest dramatic effects on low-lying coastal communities as shoreline erosion threatens houses and freshwater supplies are contaminated with salty water. Certain natural ecosystems such as wetlands and coral reefs would also be in jeopardy with a rapid rise in sea level.

Melting Arctic Sea Ice

Today, the Arctic summer sea ice is about half as thick as it was in 1950. Just like an ice cube melting in a glass of water, the melting Arctic sea ice does not contribute to sea-level rise, except for the expansion of seawater with increasing heat. However, melting Arctic sea ice may eventually lead to global changes in water circulation. The water from melted ice forms a layer at the sea surface that is less dense than the underlying water because it is less salty, potentially preventing the pattern of deep ocean currents from rising to the surface. Additionally, melting sea ice speeds up the warming of the Arctic because water absorbs 80% of sunlight, about the same amount that the cover of sea ice used to reflect (IPCC 2007).

Warmer Oceans

While the idea of swimming in a warmer ocean is pleasant to most human beings, increasing ocean temperatures could cause serious ecological damage. In the past, warm sea-surface temperatures have been responsible for major destruction and can cause more damage if global temperatures continue to climb. Approximately a quarter of the world’s coral reefs have died over the last few decades, many of them affected by coral bleaching—a process tied directly to warming waters, which weakens the coral animals.


Warmer temperatures cause more evaporation of water, which, as part of the water cycle ( eventually leads to increased precipitation. In fact, the world has seen a 5%–10% increase in precipitation over the past century. Some computer models predict that the frequency of heavy rainfall events is likely to rise with global warming, further increasing the potential for flooding.


While some parts of the world are projected to experience increased precipitation if global warming persists, other parts may experience higher levels of drought. This is because places that are typically dry, such as the centers of continents, will experience even more evaporation as global temperatures climb. More intense droughts have been observed since the 1970s, particularly in the tropics and subtropics, but scientists are still deciphering whether drought is increasing worldwide or the areas of drought are shifting.

Heat Waves

Heat waves can pose a great risk to human health. A 1995 heat wave in Chicago, for example, caused 514 heat-related deaths. Unless steps are taken to avoid it, heat waves are likely to continue to increase, as will their intensity, leading to a greater number of heat-related deaths (IPCC 2007).

Warmer winters

Warmer winters mean that many deaths related to cold temperatures might be avoided and that the growing season will last longer, a possible upside to global warming. More people around the world die because of wintertime cold than because of summertime heat. Decreased wintertime deaths could offset some of the potential increase in summertime heat-related deaths, or even lead to more lives saved as a result of the changed temperatures. With respect to longer growing seasons, there is already evidence in Europe that the growing season has been extended since the1960s, with spring plants now blooming about 6 days earlier and fall colors coming about 5 days later.

Changing Ecosystems

Scientists believe that ecosystems will likely respond to climate change in one of two ways. Either ecosystems will move, migrating to new locations that are similar to their current climate, or they will change, adapting to the changing climate, with some species becoming less abundant or locally extinct and others thriving under the new conditions.


With drought affecting some regions and heat intensifying in the tropics, many areas are becoming unsuitable for agriculture. In tropical areas that are already dry and hot, the amount of food harvested will likely decrease with even small amounts of climate change. It is likely that, with changing climate, a global change in the agricultural pattern will occur.

If Global Warming Is Actually Happening, What Can Be Done About It?

Responses to climate change can include attempts at slowing or preventing climate change, increasing efforts to adapt to change, or a combination of both. Slowing the rate of climate change depends more than anything else on decreasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. In principle, this can be accomplished by releasing less CO2 into the atmosphere, by sequestering more CO2 in trees and oceans, or through other physical means such as underground injection. However, the best way to accomplish these things is quite complicated. It is not just a matter of science, since many actions involve technological, economic, political, and geographical considerations at international, national, state, and local levels—thus involving governmental, corporate, and individual decision making. Inevitably, there are compromises and trade-offs to be made. Solutions currently being put forth include reducing the use of carbon fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) and reducing the discharge of CO2 into the atmosphere. Ways to reduce the use of carbon fuels include; increasing the existence and convenience of public transit systems; purchasing fewer automobiles per family and favouring fuel-efficient ones, such as hybrids; increasing the use of non-carbon fuels, such as biomass and hydrogen fuel-cells; and reducing the energy demands of homes through better insulation and the use of energy- efficient appliances. Ways to reduce the discharge of CO2 into the atmosphere include using advanced technologies to remove CO2 from industrial exhaust; switching to non-carbon energy technologies such as wind farms, solar panels, hydroelectric power, and nuclear power; and providing additional incentives for the development of new and better technologies. For all of the above propositions, it is important to recognize that many solutions offered reflect particular values and biases by individuals, organizations, and governments, so they need to be carefully compared and thoroughly assessed

2.2 Indigenous people and Climate change.

Indigenous and other traditional peoples are only rarely considered in academic, policy and public discourses on climate change, despite the fact that they will be greatly impacted by impending changes. Their livelihood depends much on their resources that are directly affected by climate change, and they often inhabit economically and politically marginal areas in diverse, but fragile ecosystems. Symptomatic of the neglect of indigenous peoples, the recently released IPCC II report summary on climate change impacts ( makes only scarce mention of indigenous peoples, and then only in polar regions and merely as helpless victims of changes beyond their control.

The IPCC III report ( on mitigation of climate change does not consider the roles of indigenous peoples. This view of indigenous people as passive and helpless at best and as obstructionist and destructive at worst is not new, with roots going back to colonial periods and reoccurring in contemporary discussion of development, conservation, indigenous right, and indigenous knowledge. Our aim is to shift the focus to indigenous people as the primary actors in term of global climate change monitoring, adaptation and innovation. We believe theirs should be a voice in policy formation and action. Indigenous and other local peopled are vital and active parts of many ecosystems and may help to enhance the resilience of these ecosystems. In addition, they interpret and react to climate change impacts in creative on traditional knowledge as well as new technologies to find solutions, which may help society at large to cope with the impending changes.

Looking back at climate change

People have faced climate change and adapted to it since species evolved. The great majority of that time is obscure and can only be reconstructed through archaeological or proxy analyses, which have much to contribute to our understanding of past Human adaptation and mitigation of climate change. From archaeology, we know food storage is common and sharing are central to survival during disasters and climate change. The invention of agriculture was almost certainly a major adaptation to climate change. However, much of what people have developed in response to disaster has also been fairly unstable are harvesting techniques have been very expensive, and dry land management has been not easy

Since dry land has become too large for easy management. Now we rely on indigenous knowledge to reconstruct these processes, as well as prehistoric farming techniques, plant use, and especially environmental management. What were prehistorically seasonal foods have now become famine foods, with the danger that knowledge of them and their management will be lost forever (Whittaker R.J, and Fernandez-Palacios J.M 2007)

We know that environment and social stress results in conflicts and massive death. Extinction of ancient cultures is more common than survival. These are fierce and powerful lessons to contemplate as we consider what indigenous people can teach us about climate change. Around the world, agriculture was developed at the end of the last ice age, at the beginning of the Holocene dating back approximately 11,500 years. What do we know about clime change during this period? There have been major changes in hydrological events and also in extreme weather events, as well as temperature changes during the Holocene. All indications are that conditions were wetter during the first half of Holocene, followed by varying degree of draught. The ‘ Anthropocene’ hypothesis (Ruddiman 2003) proposes that human activities-largely deforestation and agriculture-resulted in CO2 increase over the last 8000years and in methane gas(CH4 )increases over the last 5000years. If this theory is correct, there are major implications for human –induced climate change long predating our present focus on industrial fossil fuel driven climate change. Nonethelsess, the climate change, driven by recent (200years) fossil-fuel and deforstition carbon emissions, predicted for this century (IPCC; http://www.

Problems facing Indigenous people due to climate change

In temperate ecosystems

Climate change affects temperate ecosystems quite differently depending on geography, with inundation at sea level and either more or less rainfall. However, temperatures are rising. Plant and animal distribution, ranges, phonologies, and community structures are changing. Deterioration of ecosystem services is just one anthropocentric concern. Indigenous peoples depend on seasonal abundances of resources which are changing. They rely on predictable levels of rainfall, winters, snowpack and glaciers to feed the lake, creeks and rivers that are critical habitat for fish and other resources. On-shore and off-shore marine resources are weather dependent and yet the weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable (Walter G-R. Et al 2002). Dry periods, which can no longer be depended upon, are needed for preserving fish, seaweeds, and other resources; people are now trying to dry indoor or freeze foods. Indigenous people have stories, taboos, and knowledge about great changes in the past, nut these are inadequate in the face of present climate changes.

In Islands

Climate changes common to many islands are raising sea levels and temperatures, ocean current oscillations changes (such as the ENSO), and increasingly violent storms. Other climate changes temperature, winds, rainfall, and so forth-differ with island location. Other environmental changes are important everywhere i the world and often interact with climate change, but these other factors are particularly prominent on islands. Diverse indigenous peoples on islands live on the margins between sea and land and between survival and failure (Puri R.k. 2007, Orlove B.S et al 2000). Natural disasters they face include island subsidence, drought, loss of fresh water; rapid anthropogenic disasters include diseases, invasion, nuclear testing; economic globalization, and invasive species. Nonetheless, island peoples have extensive indigenous f environmental management that will be necessary for their survival in the face of climate change.

In Tropical Rainforests

In Tropical rainforests of the world is predicted to be a 2-8oC temperature rise in this century. However, even more important than temperature rise are other factors such as rainfall and seasonality, which depends on sea-surface temperatures, which are difficult to model and sea-rainforest interactions even more so. A global carbon market in avoided deforestation is likely to emerge in the next few years, which represent a huge financial opportunity to indigenous peoples and will they address the challenges in implementation, such as equitable benefit sharing (Cramer W. Et al 2004).

In Deserts

What will happen to the deserts if the world is more difficult to predict because it is not just a matter of increasing temperatures but also changing rainfall, ocean currents, monsoon circulations, river systems, winds, and human behaviour and all difficult to model. Variability, which is notoriously difficult to predict, is also significant. Thousands of these people, who inhabit this area are presently, will Strule to survive, with cattle and goat farming becoming increasingly less feasible and their traditional resource base for hunting and gathering restricted or absent. Even today indigenous group who have been forced to become sedentary, huddle around government drilled boreholes for water, many dependent on government handouts for survival. Without doubt, indigenous people of the deserts are on the frontline of global climate change (Cook K.H., and Vizy E. K. 2006)

In Alpine areas

Alpine ecosystems around the world, too are warming at a disproportionate rates (predicted to increase as much as 5-6oC in 21st Century under present conditions). Glacial retreat was one of the first phenomena to draw our attention to global warming. Iconic peaks such as Kilimanjaro will have snows no more. Detailed studies track the upward movement on mountains of treeline and alpine plants ( Plants at the highest elevations are being pushed off the top of mountain peaks (or more accurately stated out competed by plants normally found at lower elevations). Alpine warming and afforestation will further threatened endangered animals like Snow Leopards and mountain sheep. However, what receives very littre attention is the importance of these floras and faunas to Indigenous Peoples. For example, Tibetan and Andean highlanders depend on Alpine floras for medicines, food, grazing and hunting. In the future, when trees cover the high mountains, these people will be deprived of important traditional resources central to their livelihoods.

In Polar Regions

The one region for which the IPCC II summary acknowledges climate change impacts on indigenous people is the polar region of which they say, “Detrimental impacts would include those on infrastructure and traditional indigenous ways of life.” Fortunately we need not to depend on this fleeting mention for information. After the polar bears, the Inuit are the best known victims of climate change. Traditional livelihoods of all peoples of the arctic are threatened by melting ice shields and permafrost. For arctic peoples, hunting and fishing strategies depend on solid ice. Temperatures in the arctic are rising disproportionately predicted to increase by as much as 8oC in 21st Century under present conditions affecting the livelihood strategies and knowledge of arctic peoples more quickly the elsewhere.

2.3 Indigenous people’s perceptions on climate change.

While scientific explanations of climatic changes have mainly concentrated on anthropogenic, greenhouse gas emissions, local interpretations of observed climate changes are often much more varied and encompassing.

Seldom do the media report on climate changes that impact the timing and outcome of agricultural activities, hunting, fishing and resource gathering. These personal observations and experiences evoke deeply felt emotions, as familiar signs of seasonal changes become decoupled and traditional knowledge of the weather becomes invalidated. Scientific causal explanations of climate changes may be seen as removed and abstract: invisible things are being put out into the atmosphere by anonymous corporations and states. As a consequence, people may feel powerless and/or not responsible for combating climate changes, despite their own vivid experiences of climate change impacts.

In contrast, where media play a limited role, interpretations are more closely dependent on people’s own observations and local cultural framework. Many local interpretations contain strong ethical elements, often framed in terms of a cosmological or spiritual balance, which has been upset. These interpretations are not created in order to explain present-day climate changes, but have in many instances their roots in traditional ways of interpreting climatic and weather phenomena as signs of something more than mere biophysical processes. In many parts of the world and within the context of many different belief systems local people have traditionally interpreted adverse weather conditions as well as more catastrophic events as punishments for human wrongdoings.

For example, thunder storms and hail, which express the wrath of local deities in Tibet or forest spirits in Borneo, and volcanic eruptions in British Columbia, which were interpreted as retributions for cruelty. The adverse climatic conditions or catastrophic events are thought to be caused by the breach of taboos, such as hunting at certain times or places, picking specific plants, or eating certain foods. General behaviours against human cruelty, selfishness, greed, or lack of spirituality, if transgressed, are also thought to precipitate catastrophe. These moral or spiritual explanations of climate change contrast with scientific explanations. However, other traditional people integrate scientific and local explanations. For example, there is a view that climate change is caused by people’s greed and selfishness in overconsumption that leads to greenhouse gas emissions.

In general, local interpretations of climate change may help people better make sense of observed climate changes, but do not necessarily empower them to act. This is especially the case where climate change threatens landscape features of spiritual value, or where the culprits of climate change are perceived to be outsiders. These ‘others’ can be other parts of society, the state, companies or western cultures, which are generally seen as being outside the sphere of local influence.

Therefore, different indigenous people in the world understand climate change in different ways and we must know whether or not scientific models incorporated into local explanations depends on the status and accessibility of science within a culture and on the influence of media. In some places, media and their coverage of climate change issues dominate people’s understandings of climate changes (Berkez F. Et al 2000, Salmon . E.. 2000, Lantz T.C, and Tuner N.J., 2003)

2.4 Indigenous knowledge and practices used in adaptation and mitigation of the climate change impacts.

Indigenous knowledge it is known to be the basis for local-level decision-making in many rural communities and it has value not only for the culture in which it evolves, but also for scientists and planners striving to improve conditions in rural localities (Mundy and Compton 1991). The knowledge set is influenced by the previous generations’ observations and experiment and provides an inherent connection to on e’s surroundings and environment. That’s why Woodley said it is not transferable but provides relationships that connect people directly to their environments and the changes that occur within it, including climate change (Woodley 1991).

Indigenous knowledge has been directly applied in different parts of Africa in climate change mitigation through emission reduction, carbon sequestration and carbon substitution. For example in the Sahel region (refers to the semi-arid and arid region of Africa and constitutes significant portions of Senegal, Gambia Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and the Sudan but in some definitions, the Sahel covers a wider latitudinal belt that extends roughly between 108° and 208°N into parts of the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ethiopia) the area of adaptation, indigenous knowledge systems have been applied in weather forecasting, vulnerability assessment and implementation of adaptation strategies.


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Climate change and the efforts of indigenous people in adaptation and mitigation inTukuyu, Mbeya-Rungwe District Tanzania
Climate change and Indigenous people
Bsc. Environment Management - Climate change
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Let us unite to punch climate change so as to harmonize nature, together we can save our planet earth. Its you and me.
climate, mbeya-rungwe, district, tanzania, indigenous
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Ipyana Geoffrey (Author), 2011, Climate change and the efforts of indigenous people in adaptation and mitigation inTukuyu, Mbeya-Rungwe District Tanzania, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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