The Importance of Strengthening Local Wisdom for Disaster Preparedness

We may ever think what have been done in the past by local communities in the event of earthquakes, floods, landslides or other disasters. Do they have disaster management at the time? Do they have disaster preparedness at the time? Do they have early warning system at the time? How they recover from disaster at the time? We may even think that what have been done in the past is better than now. At the time, they might think much more ahead about preparedness rather than what we think today. At the time, they might more concern about environment rather than us today.

Is the implementation of disaster management policies made ​​by government or other professional organizations are in accordance with the characteristics of an area and can be well received by the local community?


Local wisdom consists of two words, wisdom and local. Wikipedia said that wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. The free dictionary by Farlex said wisdom is the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. Local can be interpreted as one area or location.

Gobyah (2003) said that local wisdom is the truth that has been a tradition or steady in a region. Local wisdom is a product of the past that continue to hold onto life. Although local but the values ​​contained in it is universal.

Caroline Nyamai-Kisia said local wisdom is the source of knowledge held dynamic, evolving and forwarded by a certain population that is integrated with their understanding of the nature and the culture around.

So in general we can say that local wisdom is the knowledge or awareness that is hereditary inherited that has been fused with the community and local culture.

I was attended tsunami drill in one of the district in Indonesia sometime in 2011. At that time, we were quite amazed when the locals turned out their early warning system which quite effective and executed well by them. Local communities have inherited the knowledge of the signs of a tsunami threat and having their own tradition that serves as an early warning to warn their community to flee to a place in a higher ground. Because of this local wisdom, when the tsunami occurred long time back in this area, there were many lives been saved.

Sometimes we see that the people who are in disaster-prone locations as “weak poeple” or even as “potential victims” so that we as an external party come and “give latest knowledge” about preparedness in various forms. We do not think the fact that local people have their own capacity in disaster preparedness. From the above example, it is important for us to fin a way how to combine the local methods/wisdom with the techniques as well as new information and knowledge in order to have more effective preparedness and increase resilience accordingly. To be able to achieve this, it is necessary to have close cooperation from all stakeholders, government, professional organizations, academics and communities themselves.

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