New Publication: Invisible Resilience and IKS of Earthquake Disaster Management

In this new publication by EHTZ Senior Researcher Dr. Herbert Hambati, he illuminates the gaps that exist between how indigenous knowledge systems and local people respond to earthquakes and how government, donors and other formal disaster respondents manage these crises. The paper was published in Utafiti: Journal of African Perspectives by the College of Humanities at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Through the integration of a diversity of fieldwork data, collected together with our team, the paper shows how the formal mechanisms of global assistance constitute disaster management failure by design in Tanzania. By identifying the discrepancy between the fieldwork findings and official reports, Hambati indicates that local first-respondents and survivors are the invisible stakeholders in disasters management in Tanzania. Through a study of earthquake affected wards in the Kagera region, he argues that it is rather the local experts, instead of the formal systems of disaster management, who sustain human lives in the weeks and months before external aid comes to the rescue. Gaps in management are a result of gaps in recognition; these identified ‘invisible stakeholders of disaster management’ or ‘everyday humanitarians’ are crucial in local level disaster response, yet their contributions to their own survival remain invisible to central government and the global arena. Traditional means of forecasting environmental catastrophes and of providing essential assistance in the aftermath of natural disasters are reflections of cultural values, socio-economic sophistication, and scientific expertise within communities whose resilience needs to be recognized, assisted, and promoted. Indeed, it is poverty – not lack of expertise - that acts as the root cause of destruction and damage after earthquakes in the Kagera region of Tanzania, and hence remains the main problem to be solved.

Following his conclusions, Hambati encourages that the educational curricula of the future, involving a new generation of academicians, should integrate this crucial indigenous knowledge into the nation’s mainstream disaster management framework.

Find the article here.

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