Climate change adaptation using traditional knowledge

20 December 2011 | News story

Water management from rivulets is an example of adaptation to address drought, writes CEC member Pradip Dey of India.

This recent practice of water management from rivulets, which is an excellent example of adoption to address drought has evolved from the experience of the farmers of Jharkhand and has been used only for the last about 8 years. Methodology involves collection of primary data through participatory approach involving several tribes of East Indian plateau principally belonging to Ho, Santhal, Munda, Oraon, and Lohra who own vast wealth of indigenous farming knowledge from time immemorial.

The seepage water from the fields which flows in small rivulets is collected by constructing a bund in the lower reaches of the rivulets and where water can be stored. Depending upon the availability of drainage water, similar bunds may be constructed at many points along the length of the rivulets. This stored water is reused very judiciously for typical rabi (winter) crops (i.e., mixed cropping of cabbage/cauliflower + mustard + tomato) grown in beds and irrigation is provided for each bed mainly by carrying water in small drums. The farmers harvest all the three crops simultaneously in the rabi season.

Many of the tribal practices in the world are being vanished over the years due to rapid urbanisation and Jharkhand is no exception. Hence, it is utmost essential to document all the information related to protection of natural ecosystem and local environment available among the indigenous communities before they are lost. This strategy, especially in allowing adaptation and resilience to climate change related to water scarcity may be integrated in policy framework.

CONTACT: Pradip Dey; e-mail:

Reference: Dey, P. and Sarkar, A.K. 2011. Revisiting indigenous farming knowledge of Jharkhand (India) for conservation of natural resources and combating climate change. Indian J. Traditional Knowledge 10(1): 71-79.