Rapid urbanisation and implications for indigenous knowledge in early warning on flood risk in African cities

by Raymond Abudu Kasei and Miriam Dalitso Kalanda-Joshua And Daniel Tutu Benefor

06 Aug 2019
Journal of the British Academy
Number of pages
32 (pp. 183-214)

Abstract: By 2050, 3.2 million people in urban areas could be at risk from pluvial flooding, an increase of 1.2 million from 2015. It is, thus, imperative to understand existing coping strategies because such strategies play critical roles in developing adaptation strategies to climate change. Current studies demonstrate the role of indigenous knowledge (IK)—gathered through observations of plant indicators, animal behaviour and astronomy—in the management of climate risks. However, the use of IK in weather predictions in urban areas, specifically in Africa, is under-studied. This article assesses the role of IK in early warning of flood risks in informal urban settlements vis-à-vis urbanisation in Africa. The results reveal that people in Ghana depend on local indicators for predicting climate hazards (floods and droughts) because they provide a timely and spatial fit compared with conventional forecasts. Hence, there is a need to consider the validation and integration of relevant indigenous knowledge into early warning scientific systems for effective early warnings and adaptation strategies.

Keywords: Cities, urban, climate change, floods, indigenous/traditional knowledge, early warning.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 7, supplementary issue 2 (Cities and Infrastructure in the Global South).

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