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Culture Role for Disaster Risk Management

On February 23rd, 2016, RDI once again held their invited lecture at Itenas, Bandung.This time RDI brought their main field as lecture topic which disaster risk reduction. The speaker was Dr. Gavin Sullivan of Coventry University.

Post disaster recovery and culture unexpectedly has a close connection, which might help researchers, governments, and donors to improve their implementation on disaster risk reduction, and to find the appropriate approach for the victims. Culture by definition is local features that contribute to identity and values, and make one group different from another. Culture itself has a string link with disaster because culture associated with behavior. Culture in relation to risk refers to ways people live with risk and how they cope and how they interpret their condition. Every culture has different way to interpret disaster risk in their local area, how their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors influence their vulnerability. Culture can be negative factors which increase vulnerability, but in some case it can also helps community to cope with community challenges brought by disaster.

Researchers need to be aware of and respect cultural differences. Assumptions based on science can conflict with practices based on tradition and local wisdom. Example for Merapi Mountain, on how their local leader said about nrimo or pasrah which conflicted with preparedness concept. It is better to conduct research from time to time in the same community, so we can see the changes or improvement. Dr. Gavin Sullivan also mentioned about his research in Bantul, Indonesia, which its approach for the research was conducted 3 years after the disaster. A bit of his findings throughout his research were seeks information from key informant sometimes more effective than FGD, the leaders of the ethics only want to invite selected people to talk with researcher, and snowball sampling can work but not too effective.All in all it is more helpful to focus on social vulnerability than to focus on the naturalness of disaster.