Adaptation, Resilience, and Transformability: A Historical Ecology of Traditional Furrow Irrigation System on the Slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
AbstractThis thesis is about the Chagga traditional furrow irrigation system locally known as mfongo, practiced on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. This is one of the Africa’s pre-colonial islands of intensive agricultural practicing areas. The study traces the relationships between communities and water irrigation from the late pre-colonial era (c. AD 1750) to the present day. This assessment was carried out within the framework of historical ecology with the purpose of understanding the historical trajectories of patterns and processes on this specific ecosystem and landscape, and how these have helped to building lasting socio-ecological resilience. The reserch questions are based on: the mfongo irrigation management and practice, strategies in the past and present responsible for the coping and adaptation capacities, how water management relates to the physical landscape transformation, cultural practices, livelihoods and heritage, and how the system can help to enhance transformation. Written sources, interviews and participatory observation were used to collect information to address the questions. The analysis shows that coping, adaptive and transformative responses have long been characteristic of dealing with vulnerabilities. I argue that coping capacities inherited from the long term historical knowledge and practices will continue to be essential in sustaining resilience in social ecological systems as communities endeavours to minimise vulnerabilities. I hope that these analyses of vulnerability and resilience in the Chagga mfongo water management system will help inform and influence policy makers when it comes to ecosystem and landscape management and rural development in the Kilimanjaro region. Furrow irrigation, indigenous knowledge, social-ecological system, coping capacity, adaptive capacity, resilience, transformation.