Traditional Knowledge and Hazard Management

There is increasing evidence that many so-called traditional communities pass on from one generation to another experience and knowledge that can be critical in helping them to react to natural hazards. Thus, for the Moken (sea gypsies) in the Gulf of Thailand, traditional knowledge helped save many of the population from the devastating effects of the tsunami of 26 December 2004. When the water lapping the shores of Yan Chiak in Myanamar suddenly drew back on 26 December, the Moken recognized the signs.

For further information:

  • Article in the April-June 2005 issue of the UNESCO news bulletin A World of Science, (pages 20-21)
  • Work on the Moken sea gypies within the cross-cutting project of Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS)
  • Description of a project on the rehabilitation of traditional communities and municalities of sea gypsies (Moken, Moklen and Urak Lawoi) living along the Andaman coastline in six southern provinces of Thailand, being piloted by the UNESCO Office in Bangkok
  • Article Spared by the Sea by Derek Elias (UNESCO-Bangkok) in the May 2005 issue of The New Courier magazine.

On Ambae Island (Vanuatu), an ongoing project has sought to catalogue local traditional viewpoints and hazard perceptions and combine elements of these viewpoints and perceptions with scientific knowledge and science-based management structures. The UNESCO Office in Apia is providing support to this project, which involves among others the Department of Geology, Mines and Water Resources of Vanuatu, the National Disaster Management Office, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), the Institute of Natural Resources of Massey University in New Zealand, and New Zealand Official Development Assistance.

Participatory methods of incorporating scientific with traditional knowledge for volcanic hazard management on Ambae Island, Vanuatu. S,H. Cronin, D.R. Gaylord, D. Charley, B.V. Alloway, S. Wallez, J.W. Esau. Bulletin of Volcanology 66 : 652-668 (2004)

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