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Dalhousie University Halifax (1997)

From thirsty soils to spirit hills, a case study of indigenous natural resource management for sustainable agriculture in Malawi

Manchur, Wendy A..

Titre : From thirsty soils to spirit hills, a case study of indigenous natural resource management for sustainable agriculture in Malawi

Auteur : Manchur, Wendy A..

Université de soutenance : Dalhousie University Halifax (Canada)

Grade : Master of Environmental Studies 1997

Résumé
Policy and development tend to be governed by assumptions and prionties such as measuring progress by the application of technology, and failing to view ourselves as dependent on larger nahaal systems. This behavior has resulted in increasingly unsustainabie natural systems and has further disadvantaged people in poorer socioeconomic positions. There is growing recognition in the importance of indigenous knowledge as a foundation for sustainable agriculture and naturai resource management. fndigenous kuowledge builds on years of local forms of resource use where cornmunitylevel des and spiritual beliefs regulate behavior. This type of knowledge is both dynamic and diverse in any community and tends to maintain the ecological integrity of the environment. This case snidy used 20 Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques to detennine what indigenous knowledge contributes to the sustainable use and conservation of natural resources in Malawi. The results descnbe farmers’ natural resource knowledge, aspects of indigenous farming techniques, and village-level resource management based on traditional laws, customs and spintual beliefs. The differentiation of this knowledge along selected socioeconornic criteria were also considered. Overall, 1 found that indigenous knowledge indicates responsible and sustainable use of natural resources primarily as a result of community adherence to social sanctions, the integration of di fferent sources of know ledge over generations, and farrners ability to adapt to micro-ecological conditions. Knowledge was also diverse in the community which was revealed by differences in age, gender, wealth, and kinship. Indigenous knowledge was found to be just as valid as other types of laiowledge in Malawi, but has been devalued, ignored and impeded by fannefs lack of control and access to resources. Several recommendations were made at various levels in order to advance indigenous knowledge for sustainable nahual resource management.

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