Environmental conservation in Tanzania: a case study of the role of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in the management of traditional water-furrow system on the Southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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University of Dar es Salaam
The purpose of this work was to study the role of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in managing the traditional water-furrows on the Southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Specifically, it intended to explore the people's knowledge about their local environment and how that knowledge has been used to manage and conserve the environment. The study covered 25 sampled villages in eight wards on the Southern slopes of Kilimanjaro. A total of 128 respondents were interviewed, including 84 furrow elders and 44 resource managers. Fifty four traditional furrows were also visited and documented. Five methods of enquiry were used in this study. They included review of secondary sources, direct observations, open-ended interviews, diagramming and photographing. As part of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), the administration of these methods was participatory and mostly informal. Findings revealed that the inception and management of the furrow system was a function of a complex body of knowledge about the bio-physical environment among the local people. It was further found that this knowledge was embodied within various motivational belief systems which governed participation or non-participation in the system management. However, the disintegration of these belief systems has also resulted into a significant breakdown of the system. The findings also indicated that despite being central to agricultural activities in the past, the furrow system stimulated a number of technological innovations which were largely friendly to the environment. The findings further showed that tap-water development as the most modern water management technology in the area, is far from sustaining the Chagga's water demands. In response to this problem, it was further found that the furrow system exhibits a certain degree of flexibility to .accommodate some modern strategies within the traditional contexts. Some of those potential linkages include politico-cultural integrations customary legal empowerment, technological integration and education. It was further found that the impact of IKS in furrow management is positively significant to the environment in the area. Furrows were used in tree planting strategies to ensure nature conservation. Furrow-water was also known to regulate soil nutrients' concentration in fields. Nevertheless, the system was known to be the cause of some water-related diseases. As such the system provided for means and ways in which the diseases can be dealt with. Four recommendations were given: (i) Legal and policy reforms should be committed to minimize formal interference into traditional natural resource management strategies; ii) The traditional water-furrow system in Kilimanjaro should be declared a National Cultural Heritage in order to preserve its physical and knowledge existence; iii) Decentralization of education in Tanzania should also effect decentralization of some specific subject curricula in order to accommodate local relevance in the teaching and learning continuum; iv) Further studies should be done on the application of IKS in such socio-economic activities as crop-and animal-husbandry, feeding patterns and settlement systems among indigenous people in various parts of Tanzania.
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Indingenous knowledge systems, Traditional water furrow, Environmental protection, Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania
Simon, P. (1997). Environmental conservation in Tanzania: a case study of the role of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in the management of traditional water-furrow system on the Southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (