Women, Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change in the Niger DELTA Region of Nigeria

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:05
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Chioma Daisy ONYIGE, Department of Sociology, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Climate change has become very topical in academic and policy discourses. This derives prinicipally from the phenomenal impact that climate change is having on global resources and livelihoods. The Niger Delta coast is currently faced with a gamut of environmental problems, including: soil and coastal erosion: oil pollution; population pressure; and flooding. A study of the Niger Delta region by the World Bank in 1995 states that the major economic and environmental problem of the region is land resource degradation manifested in flooding, and renewable resource degradation as it affects agriculture, fisheries, forestry, biodiversity loss, etc.  The impact of climate change increases livelihood vulnerability of the rural farming households in this region. Climate change makes access to food sources unpredictable and increases poverty and disease. On the whole, economic activities can be truncated and infrastructure destroyed in an event of sea level rise caused by climate change, while the already common problems associated with the local rainfall regime and tidal influences, can be accentuated, thus increasing the physical and socio-economic vulnerability. Research has shown that women are disproportionally affected by natural disasters such as drought, floods, and heat waves.  Studies on climatic variability and changes in Nigeria have been carried out ,but there still exists a gap in knowledge on the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable groups, especially  women in rural Nigeria, and how they adapt using their indigenous knowledge. Often in research, it is wrongly assumed that rural and indigenous women do not offer scientific knowledge even though, in many communities in the Niger Delta, they are the caretakers of biodiversity and experts in herbal medicines. This paper intends to contribute to the debate about the role of local knowledge in environmental policy. We are looking at cultural responses to specific social and environmental conditions.