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Volcanic disaster risk reduction in indigenous communities on Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Niroa, John and Nakamura, Naohiro (2022) Volcanic disaster risk reduction in indigenous communities on Tanna Island, Vanuatu. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 74 . NA. ISSN 2212-4209

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This research addresses how an Indigenous disaster risk reduction framework, which calls for the integration of cultural aspects in order to assess the risk of people and communities and their abilities to cope with the impact of a disaster, can apply to volcano hazards in the context of rural communities where villagers strongly maintain a spiritual connection to an active volcano. In the area called Sulphur Bay, Tanna Island, Vanuatu, although deemed vulnerable to Mt Yasur eruptions, no evacuation or any sort of science-based volcano risk reduction plans have ever been implemented. This is because the villages are governed according to traditional belief systems, which see Mt Yasur as their ancestor and have rejected the introduction of external ontologies. Our interviews with the chiefs, custom leaders and general villagers find that for the majority of the villagers, the risk is to internalize any external ontologies, not the volcano, and they understand a volcano eruption as the expression of anger by their ancestor because of a wrong action of community members. Although their ontology has been constantly influenced by external agents and a few see such an ontology becoming out-of-date, under the hierarchal chiefly governing system, they are still certain to perform rituals to calm down Mt Yasur's angry spirit if it erupts. While existing research on volcano risk reduction has called the combination of indigenous belief systems and science-based approaches to improve volcano risk reduction, this research spots challenges to do so in some particular contexts.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Q Science > QE Geology
Divisions: School of Agriculture, Geography, Environment, Ocean and Natural Sciences (SAGEONS)
Depositing User: Naohiro Nakamura
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2022 02:50
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2022 02:50

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