Integration of Indigenous Knowledge into Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Policies for Sustainable Development: The Case of the Agta in Casiguran, Philippines

  • Jesusa Grace J. Molina
  • Andreas Neef
Part of the Disaster Risk Reduction book series (DRR)


Due to a combination of physical, socio-economic and political factors, the Agta, an indigenous group in Casiguran, Philippines, are highly susceptible to the threat of natural hazards, especially typhoons, floods, storm surges and landslides. Despite their evident vulnerabilities, the Agta possess valuable indigenous knowledge, generated through practical and long-standing experiences, culture and local resources, which they utilise in coping and in ensuring their safety from the detrimental impacts of disasters. However, the decision-making and planning processes of the local government in the area of disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) remain insensitive to Agta’s knowledge and context, putting them in a more precarious condition and compromising the sustainability of their livelihoods. Employing qualitative and participatory methods, such as semi-structured interviews, policy and document analysis, participant observation and validation workshop, it is argued that there is a need for integrating Agta’s indigenous knowledge into the existing DRRM policies and plans of the local government in respect of the rights to sustainable development and survival of the former and in response to the legal obligation of the latter. A sustainable development framework that calls for a process of harmonising indigenous knowledge and science-based information in DRRM towards vulnerability reduction and disaster resilience guided the investigation. While the local government recognises the importance of indigenous knowledge in DRRM, integration with science only happens at the individual level and is not applied in formal settings such as planning and decision-making processes of the municipality. The study recommends mechanisms to ensure Agta’s inclusion in the local government’s DRRM decision-making, planning, and policy formulation processes such as effective implementation of national laws on DRRM and indigenous peoples; active representation in DRRM council and committees at the municipal and village scales; documentation, validation and integration of indigenous knowledge in different sectors such as education, health and livelihood; organising work; and capacity building initiatives that will realise Agta’s rights to sustainable development and disaster safety.


Indigenous knowledge Sustainable development Vulnerability Natural hazards Disaster risk reduction Philippines 



The authors are grateful to the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAid); The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee; Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan; and Nuestra Señora de la Salvacion Parish that have contributed to the successful implementation of the research in one way or another. The authors are also thankful for the warmth and cooperation of the Municipal Government of Casiguran, the Village Council of Cozo and, most especially, for the active participation of the Agta of Sitio Dipontian.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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