External stakeholders’ attitudes towards and engagement with local knowledge in disaster risk reduction: are we only paying lip service?

Robert Šakić Trogrlić, Melanie J. Duncan, Grant Wright, Marc J. C. van den Homberg, Adebayo J. Adeloye, Faidess Mwale, Colin McQuistan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
162 Downloads (Pure)


In the research and policy environment, local knowledge (LK) is increasingly seen as an important component of building the resilience of communities and delivering sustainable disaster risk reduction (DRR) approaches tailored to local contexts. Many studies focus on documenting LK in different contexts; however, far less emphasis has been given to understanding how external stakeholders (i.e. government, NGOs, consultants) engage with and perceive the value of LK for DRR. Through an intepretivist epistemology and a case study research design, this paper sets out to fill in this gap by engaging with external stakeholders involved with community-based flood risk management in Malawi. It bases its findings on a thematic analysis of qualitative data collected through focus group discussions (n=7) and key informant interviews (n=69) conducted in 2016 and 2017.The findings show that although there is an appreciation of the importance of LK in rhetoric, its inclusion in DRR practice remains limited. The strong dichotomy between local and scientific knowledge persists and it has led to the further marginalisation of LK. The international policy and research push for LK in DRR is therefore not translated to realities on the ground. To the best of our knowledge, this presents one of the first studies of external stakeholders' attitudes of LK and how these influence its overall position in DRR. The paper calls for further development of knowledge co-production processes that will be based on giving equal weight, recognition and importance to LK.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date30 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Co-production
  • Communities
  • Community-based disaster risk reduction
  • Flooding
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Local knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Safety Research
  • Geology


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