Advocates urge LGUs to incorporate indigenous knowledge into disaster planning

Cebu City—Indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSPs) must be incorporated into Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plans (LDRRMPs), experts and advocates said during a recent episode of Klima Ug Kalikupan.

Klima Ug Kalikupan is a climate change and environment webcast produced by The Climate Reality Project Philippines with Cebu Technological University (CTU). The fourth episode provided an overview of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Framework in the Visayas region and highlighted issues affecting disaster response and management in the country.

The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 mandates local government units (LGUs) to develop and implement LDRRMPs with a five (5) percent allocation from the total income revenue. The plan shall include disaster prevention and mitigation, disaster preparedness, disaster response, and disaster rehabilitation and recovery.

Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSPs) serve as the backbone of a community as it encompasses how people perceive, behave, and respond to situations, especially during imminent threats such as disasters.

“Indigenous knowledge can contribute to DRRM systems in the country. It allows greater awareness in communities and helps in preparing for disasters,” Ava Arnejo, Local DRRM Officer II of the Municipality of Sogod Cebu, said.


Hermogenes Gacho, Jr., an environmental education advocate and Climate Reality Leader, discussed how indigenous knowledge, values, architecture, and language could strengthen disaster risk response.

 “Iloilo came from ‘ylong-ylong’ or ‘ilong’ (nose) which is the shape of the river na malapit sa city. Geographically wise, alam ng mga Lumad what area is flooding kasi alam nila yung river itself. They know the shape. They know how the river flows,” he explained.

He also pointed out that indigenous people know their terrain and utilize these for survival. For example the indigenous house architecture like the bahay kubo and torogan, which have stilts for elevation, protect families from low-land dangers.

Arnejo, on the other hand, shared about the practice of ethnobotany in local communities wherein wild plants are considered in the DRRM system as herbal medicine and food for survival.


While indigenous knowledge is found to be very beneficial for local DRRM systems, its preservation remains a challenge.

 “Other cultural practices are being promoted due to migration, inter-marriage, and exposure to other cultures. This indigenous knowledge is being slowly replaced as communities and their values shift and adapt,” Arnejo explained.

One of the biggest challenges of integrating indigenous knowledge into DRRM plans, according to Gacho, is the mistrust of indigenous people toward researchers.

“Some student researchers, inaabuso yung rights ng indigenous people to the extent na they have been using them for academic purposes pero walang return back sa community. Hindi na sila nagbibigay ng knowledge [to the experts] because na-abuse na sila before,” he cited.


The actual and lived experiences of communities are critical in DRRM planning. The perspective of people on the ground, married with sound research and science, will lead to community-centered plans and policies.

Considering indigenous knowledge as a treasure of the country, Gacho suggested incorporating indigenous knowledge and values into the Department of Education (DepEd) curriculum to sustain their practices across generations and even communities.

Meanwhile, Arnejo highlighted the power of social media in mainstreaming indigenous knowledge. For her, online platforms can be considered a powerful tool for raising awareness and information dissemination, allowing indigenous people to be seen and heard on a grander scale.

“Make sure they are validated and seen. Kasi minsan what happens ay nadidisregard sila. They don’t have much traction, space, or platform. So maybe as someone who is not in their community, give them the space they deserved,” she added.