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Indigenous knowledge and disaster risk reduction

Ilan Kelman, Jessica Mercer and JC Gaillard

No single knowledge form can be a panacea for disaster risk reduction, but, as this article shows, indigenous knowledge has the potential for contributing far more than is usually permitted. Following an overview of the theoretical background about indigenous knowledge's place in disaster risk reduction, two examples are detailed: the first is a framework for combining knowledge in Papua New Guinea, and the second participatory three-dimensional mapping in the Philippines. The theory and field experience suggest three principal lessons: (i) understanding the contextualisation and non-transferability of knowledge; (ii) promoting trust of different knowledge forms and self-help based on multiple knowledge form; and (iii) not assuming community homogeneity. Overall, a balance between knowledge forms should be sought, whereby one form does not dominate. With exchange among knowledge forms, and honesty in what different forms can and cannot achieve, disaster risk reduction can draw on the best wisdom that those inside and external to communities can provide.

  • Price: £2.49 / FREE to subscribers
  • Page Numbers: 12-21
  • Volume: 97
  • Issue: 1
  • Date: Spring 2012

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