Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Rangeland Governance in Northern Tanzania

Saruni Kisiaya


The article examines the role of indigenous knowledge (IK) systems in the governance
of common-property rangeland resources among pastoral communities in Northern
Tanzania. It draws on the political ecology approach to examine the role and state of
indigenous knowledge on rangeland governance in the changing socio-cultural, political
and ecological context. It employs qualitative methodology to capture the narratives
from the indigenous people. Using purposive (non-probability strategy) technique, the
study obtained a sample of 50 interviews and life histories combined, and four focus
group discussions from four research sites. Findings indicate that forms of indigenous
knowledge—such as rangeland rituals and cosmologies, rangeland zonation, livestock
taxonomy, water communism and pastoral mobility—regulate and maintain a
harmonious relationship between indigenous people and the wider ecosystem. The
article concludes that IK should be recognized as an integral component of local resource
governance. Also, indigenous rangeland cooperatives should be formed to help the
sustainability of IK systems and settling emerging rangeland disputes.


Keywords: indigenous knowledge, rangelands, common-property resources, pastoralism,
political ecology.


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