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REPORT: Integrating indigenous knowledge and scientific methods for flood risk analyses, responses and adaptation in rural coastal communities in Nigeria

Coastal wetlands and ecosystems in the Niger Delta are increasingly threatened by increased flooding and associated degradation of the coastal environment. The increased intensity of coastal flooding affects thousands of rural communities in the creeks, lagoon, estuaries and freshwater banks in the delta, significantly impacting their food and livelihood security. Though some communities in the Niger Delta have used indigenous knowledge to forecast floods with some degree of accuracy, it has not been integrated with scientific methods for improved risk analysis, and contingency planning and post disaster management, especially related to flood disasters on agricultural production. The potential of the indigenous flood prediction mechanisms can be enhanced by scientific knowledge such as well-annotated flood risk maps, simple weather stations and flood gauges at the banks of the floodable rivers, which could be understood and applied by the local indigenous population. A proper blending of the indigenous predictive techniques combined with simplified scientific procedures would help communities mitigate flood disaster and adapt to environmental changes.

This report, Integrating indigenous knowledge and scientific methods for flood risk analyses, responses and adaptation in rural coastal communities in Nigeria, engaged flood-affected communities, local government and civil society organizations and advanced a platform for integrating indigenous knowledge, participatory GIS and basic weather data monitoring, to develop a community-based participatory approach to coastal flood management. Field surveys were conducted in twenty villages to identify flood related indigenous knowledge. Weather stations and flood gauges were also installed in ten of the communities and GIS-based flood risk maps were introduced to the flood trained monitors who were deployed to integrate approaches of indigenous knowledge and science based techniques to coastal flood management. The results showed that each of the communities have certain signs and techniques to forecast different types and magnitudes of floods. It was also observed that the rural communities are well aware of potential effects of sea level rise on their communities and willing to participate in the adaptation process.

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This project and publication has been produced as part of the START call for research on the theme of ‘Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security’ in Africa, with an emphasis on the sustainability of ecosystem services in Africa. Objectives of this call are to commission high quality, independent, policy-relevant and credible research to support policy making for sustainable development in the region, to build the capacities of regional research partners to conduct high level research and to create a platform for knowledge sharing at the regional level. The funding has been provided by US National Science Foundation, Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and CDKN.

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Research call information: Regional Research Call – Africa

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