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The IUP Journal of Knowledge Management :
The Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Southeastern Island Communities of Bangladesh in Disaster Risk Management Strategies
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Climate change is known to impact coastal areas in a variety of ways. The threat of climate change requires effective disaster risk management, especially in highly vulnerable ecosystems such as island communities of Southeastern Bangladesh. Past disaster experiences in different parts of the world have revealed the importance of integrating traditional ecological knowledge with scientific findings in managing disaster risk. Hence, this paper assesses the role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) in Disaster Risk Management (DRM) strategies of communities in Kutubdia and Maheskhali islands of Bangladesh. Participatory rural appraisal methods such as key informant interviews, household survey and focus group discussion were used for collecting the primary data. The survey was administered on 385 residents of the communities of the two islands. The findings show that the respondents use their TEK together with information from the mass media in predicting, preparing for and coping with the impacts of cyclone, flood and storms. The results could be used in creating an effective community-based DRM program for the above-mentioned communities and could serve as a reference and guide for other coastal communities that are vulnerable to climate change.

 
 
 

Bangladesh is mostly vulnerable to climate change hazards due to its low-lying topography, its geographical position which makes it prone to cyclones and tidal surges, its high population density and rural poverty, and an economy based on agriculture and fisheries. Bangladesh experiences frequent occurrence of extreme climatic hazards, often in the form of floods, droughts, river bank erosion, salinity intrusion, water logging and cyclonic storm surges (Barua and Rahman, 2016).
The need to strengthen Disaster Risk Management (DRM) is more evident now than ever. Several studies argued that science-based DRM could be improved and communicated effectively by integrating it with local knowledge since the latter is readily acceptable to the community (Ikeda et al., 2016). Because of this, the local, traditional, and indigenous knowledge are important in reducing disaster risk (Kelman, 2010). The words ‘local’, ‘traditional’, and ‘indigenous’ are sometimes considered separately in disaster management and climate change adaptation strategies, and at some other times they are considered similar or overlapping (Hiwasaki et al., 2014). Local communities are sensitive to ecological changes across time; therefore, the use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) can be an appropriate approach for participatory and adaptive management decisions of natural resources (Aswani and Lauer, 2014).

 
 
 

Knowledge Management Journal,Effective disaster risk management, Island communities of Southeastern Bangladesh, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Disaster Risk Management (DRM) strategies.