Natural hazards knowledge and risk perception of Wujie indigenous community in Taiwan

Giulia Roder, Tjuku Ruljigaljig, Ching Weei Lin, Paolo Tarolli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The purpose of this work was to investigate the natural hazards knowledge and risk perception of Wujie indigenous community, located in Fazhi village in the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. Natural hazards (e.g. floods, landslides and debris flows) are one of the most critical issues for the Taiwanese government and for the people living in mountainous areas. During the last centuries, the native people experienced economic competition and military conflicts with a series of colonial periods that have led to a progressive loss of their original cultural identity. The motivation of selecting the case study of Wujie community is because (1) it has experienced, more than others, generations of devastating colonial oppression by foreign governments; (2) several landslides and debris flows occurred during the last decades; and (3) the area was subject of land exploitation and several hydroelectric projects. Two questions appear spontaneously: How are those indigenous people nowadays living with natural hazards? Have land use change and the anthropic pressure affected their knowledge and perception of natural hazards and related risk? This research, one of the first carried out in Taiwan involving an indigenous community, can offer a unique opportunity to answer these questions. The investigation utilized a variety of participatory methods by the use of face-to-face interviews. Results revealed that residents felt a high worry about landslide and flood risks. However they felt a slight preparedness to face them. The most considerable differences were found between the personal evaluations respect to the overall community. The discrepancy in the attitude–behavioural link may derive from an unsatisfactory level of communication and information probably ground in the absence of community participation in the decision-making process. Results revealed also the complexity of residents’ perspectives about the causes of the increase of natural hazards occurrence. To this point, the community has ascribed this phenomenon to several uncontrolled human actions during colonial period that have affected the environment and their living. In addition, gender, age education and experience of natural hazards were found to be significant predictors in this study. Paying attention to the indigenous perception of a hazard and risk can increase the effectiveness of projects implemented by practitioners who might need to communicate risks in the future. It also helps governments in their possible need to order evacuations, and future researchers to conduct similar projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-662
Number of pages22
JournalNatural Hazards
Volume81
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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