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Risk-reduction strategies using traditional knowledge

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Disaster Management


Source: UNDRR

Context: Indigenous peoples’ understanding of disaster risk uses an enormous dataset – traditional knowledge and folklore reaching back many generations. It was highlighted in the recently concluded Global Platform For Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 (GP2022) in Bali.

These indigenous practices have used traditional knowledge, alongside modern techniques, to help manage disaster risk: 

  • Cultural burning ( Ancient Australian technique to reduce bushfire):  Controlled fires in small areas burn, reducing undergrowth and dead wood while preserving larger trees and allowing wildlife to escape
  • Natural flood management(age-old traditional forecasting and flood-prevention methods to limit the risks of seasonal flooding in Nepal and the Tibetan Plateau):
    • These include planting flood-resistant crops and digging drainage ditches and moats.
    • Community-based early warning systems using environmental indicators: Observations of changes in cloud shapes, rainfall patterns, fauna activity, wind velocity, star positions and temperatures help anticipate floods and trigger preparations to minimize their impacts.
    • Traditional remedies after flooding – like using green coconut milk to treat diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery – help with recovery, alongside any modern medical treatments that might be available.
  • Safe areas(In Sulawesi, Indonesia, the Kailli communities have passed on historical knowledge of natural hazards):  Folksongs recount past experiences of disasters and pass on lessons learnt from predecessors about a range of hazards and their causes: tsunamis, earthquakes, and ground liquefaction resulting from earthquakes.
    • The villages include safe areas, known as ‘Kinta’, which have always been used as refuges during seismic events.


Global Platform For Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 (GP2022)

7th session recently concluded in Bali, Indonesia.

Key outcomes of Bali Agenda for Resilience are:

  • Human rights-based approach and  holistic whole-of-society approach  to diaster risk reduction (DRR)
  • DRR at centre of policies and finance for government

GP2022: It is a platform to assess the implementation of Sendai Framework on DRR (2015-2030)


Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction:  It honours practices and efforts made by institutions, individuals and groups that have best contributed to building resilience through a multi-hazard approach.

  • It focuses on the promotion of inclusive and resilient approaches in disaster risk reduction.

One of the three awardee this year is Rajib Shaw (Professor at a university in Japan):  He has championed multi-hazard community-based disaster risk reduction in six Asian countries, and his work has led to the establishment of village-level community-based working groups.


Inta Links

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)


Practice Question:

Q. Discuss the need for Disaster risk reduction in India. What are the challenges involved and explain the global efforts in this direction? (250 words)