Revitalizing indigenous ways of maintaining food security in a changing climate: review of the evidence base from Africa

Nelson Chanza, Walter Musakwa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Against a milieu of fragmented research that documents indigenous practices related to food security, and the heterogeneous settings from which the studies have been conducted, this study aims to synthesize the evidence of indigenous knowledge-food security nexus to strengthen the call for the revitalization of indigenous knowledge (IK) as part of the mechanisms to manage food security challenges being aggravated by climate change. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on insights from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), this study reviews 122 articles accessed from the Web of Science and Scopus databases, which covered indigenous methods used for producing, gathering, processing, preserving and storing diverse food sources that indigenous people deploy in securing their food systems. Findings: The surge in attention to focus on IK-food security nexus tends to be influenced by the growing acknowledgement of climate change impacts on food systems. Essentially, the IK-based practices adopted address all the four food security pillars that are specified by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as availability, accessibility, utilization and stability. The main motivation behind the continued use of IK-based ways relates largely to the interest to be food secure against climatic shocks and partly to the desire to maintain people’s food cultures and food sovereignty. Originality/value: This study deploys the food security pillars provided by the FAO (2012) to demonstrate that IK-based ways of food management are capable of addressing all the four food security dimensions, a critical observation toward revitalizing IK in managing growing food security challenges that are intensified by climate change in SSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-271
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Food security pillars
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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