27.09.2013 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Timor-Leste National Workshop on Validation of Local and Indigenous Knowledge on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Small Island and Coastal Communities

© UNESCO/Lisa Hiwasakia participant presenting the results of working group discussion

This Workshop was organized by the National Disaster Management Directorate (NDMD) in Dili, Timor-Leste, on 26-27 September 2013. It was held as an activity of the Strengthening Resilience of Coastal and Small Island Communities towards Hydro‐meteorological Hazards and Climate Change Impacts (StResCom) project, funded by the Japan Funds-in-Trust (JFIT).

The aim of this workshop was to assess and validate the local and indigenous knowledge (LINK) related to disaster risk reduction collected in three project sites in Timor-Leste: Lau-Hata (Liquiça), Maluru-Beaço (Viqueque) and Raimea (Covalima).  The workshop was attended by 32 people, which included researchers at the National Center for Scientific Research, National University of Timor Leste (UNTL-CNIC), who documented the LINKs; scientists; a traditional leader; NGOs working in the field of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation; and representatives of the Ministries of Social Solidarity, Education, Agriculture and Fisheries, and the State Secretariat for Environment.  The discussions focussed on providing empirical and/or scientific explanations on LINKs documented on: traditional ceremonies, rituals and customary law; traditional food, materials, and structures; observations of the sea, sky and wind; animals and insect behavior, and observations of plants.  The participants were then asked to make suggestions on LINKs to be integrated with scientific knowledge and be popularized, and to make recommendations on the educational & awareness-raising materials that integrate LINKs with science.    

At the workshop, the participants agreed on the importance of increasing awareness of communities on use of LINKs that can be empirically or scientifically explained, such as observations of the clouds, wind, waves and migratory birds to predict hazards; and use of local wild foods in case of drought.  There were mixed views on the best ways to use tara bandu (customary law) and rituals such as queror (stopping rain) in awareness-raising materials.  

Based on the recommendations of the national workshop, the next step for the StResCom project in Timor-Leste is to develop educational and awareness-raising materials.  The materials developed will then be disseminated, and capacity-building workshops will be held.

StResCom is a three-phase project being implemented in three countries: Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste.  Now in its third phase, organizations in each country will strategically disseminate the educational materials developed, demonstrate the importance of LINK for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in pilot communities by using self-assessment tools developed in the second phase, build capacities of government entities and scientists to incorporate LINK in disaster risk reduction policies in each country, and implement advocacy campaigns to encourage use of LINK for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.  The final regional workshop to be held in June 2014 will share lessons learned and “good practices” widely among coastal and small island communities in the region.

For more information on the StResCom project, please contact Ms Lisa Hiwasaki (l.hiwasaki[at]unesco.org) or click here

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