Living alongside a volcano in Baliau, Papua New Guinea

Jessica Mercer (CAFOD, London, UK)
Ilan Kelman (Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO), Oslo, Norway)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Publication date: 31 August 2010



The paper aims to further understand the contribution of indigenous knowledge to disaster risk reduction through reviewing the experiences of Baliau village situated on Manam Island in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea.


Indigenous strategies for disaster risk reduction were identified through participatory group discussions with community members, including a strengths‐weaknesses‐opportunities‐threats analysis.


The paper outlines how indigenous knowledge was used for disaster risk reduction and to cope with enforced evacuation. It demonstrates the need for community consultation alongside the benefits of applying the sustainable livelihoods approach to better understand volcano‐related opportunities, rather than just focusing on the volcano's threats.

Practical implications

Indigenous knowledge has both relevance and applicability when applied to disaster risk reduction. Communities should be consulted at all stages of disaster risk reduction and disaster response in order to ensure the relevance and applicability of any strategy.


Through a new case study, this paper explores the contributions of indigenous knowledge to disaster risk reduction and outlines the disruption of evacuation upon indigenous communities. Lessons learnt for future evacuation and rehabilitation scenarios are outlined through application of the sustainable livelihoods approach.



Mercer, J. and Kelman, I. (2010), "Living alongside a volcano in Baliau, Papua New Guinea", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 412-422.

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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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