Indigenous knowledge representation in mitigation process: a study of communities’ understandings of natural disasters in Aceh Province, Indonesia

Publication Date26 September 2019
Date26 September 2019
AuthorHendra Syahputra
SubjectLibrary & information science,Collection building & management
Indigenous knowledge representation in
mitigation process: a study of communities
understandings of natural disasters in Aceh
Province, Indonesia
Hendra Syahputra
Faculty of Dawa and Communication, Ar-Raniry State Islamic University, Banda Aceh, Aceh Province, Indonesia
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the case studies of communitiesunderstandings of natural disasters in Aceh Provi nce, Indonesia,
where a number of cultures and traditions which belong to the ancestral heritage continue to be used in a more modern context.
Design/methodology/approach This research used a qualitative descriptive research paradigm in which the researcher attempted to describe or
construct in-depth interview results for the research objects. The interviews were conducted in six disaster-pron e areas in Aceh, i.e. Simeulue,
Central Aceh, Aceh Tamiang, Pidie Jaya, North Aceh and dan Pidie. The interviewees were the informants in this research, which included traditional
leaders, religious leaders, community leaders, headmen, youth gures and disaster victims. The technique for determining informants was through
purposive sampling in which the sample is specied based on the need of the research.
Findings Majority of the people in Aceh, especially those who live in earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas still practice this form of knowledge,
as they have already realized that it makes a signicant contribution to emergency management. They typicall y used their traditional knowledge to
understand both the nature of local hazards and the risk reduction mechanism related to response mechanisms. In some events, they also used it as
an alternative to recovery phase according to past information and experiences. This paper will discuss the contribution of traditional knowledge to
emergency management by presenting some specic cases of indigenous stories in Aceh. The stories not only served as an early warning system but
also can be used to develop more effective disaster risk reduction programmes to improve community awareness to deal with future thre ats.
Originality/value On Simeulue Island, most of the indigenous people already possess the knowledge and value systems inherited through the
generations, as a form of local wisdom called smongwhen encountering earthquakes and tsunamis. Beside smong, there is st ill considerable
amount of other similar indigenous knowledge that originated amid traditional people, especially in rural areas, in Aceh. Thus, this paper attempts
to identify the knowledge and its representation in the implementation of disaster mitigation efforts in Aceh.
Keyword Disaster
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Aceh is well known as one of the areas most prone to disasters
in Indonesia, both natural and man-made disasters. This is
because of some factors such as its geographical and geological
conditions and other social factors like political and
sociocultural ones. Geographically, Aceh is located at the
northern end of Sumatera Island making it the westernmost
province in Indonesia. Geologically, this province lies on the
Sumatera fault, one of the most activefaults in the world which
has generated manyearthquakes in this area.
One of the most shocking quakes was the very destructive
earthquake and tsunami that devastated the coastal areas of
Aceh and Nias on 26 December 2004. Most of the coastalareas
were shattered by the tsunami in just few minutes. The
catastrophe not only destroyed much of the infrastructure and
buildings, but it also killed more than 200,000 people. These
facts make it one of the biggest disasters that has occurred in
this century in terms of magnitude, number of deaths,
economic lossesand social disruption.
In contrast, on Simeulue Island, seven people died because
of the earthquake and tsunami. When compared to the total
number of inhabitants of Simeulue Island approximately
78,128 people as of June, 2005 of whichmajority resided in the
coastal areas the number is not signicant (BRR Aceh-Nias,
2009) (Figure 1).
Post the 2004 tsunami, some successful local wisdom
concepts for instance, one on Simeulue Island, Indonesia,
and another on Moken, Surin Island,Thailand have emerged
and attracted the interestof researchers and practitioners. They
used their ancestorsstories, whichare passed orally from time
to time within their communities, to survive the tsunami. One
important thing to note here is that both communities applied
protective actions to save their communities from disaster by
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on
Emerald Insight at:
Collection and Curation
38/4 (2019) 94102
© Emerald Publishing Limited [ISSN 2514-9326]
[DOI 10.1108/CC-11-2017-0046]
Received 20 November 2017
Revised 16 February 2018
Accepted 2 May 2018

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