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(P22) The complexities of relief aid management among disaster-affected hunter-gatherers: a cross-cultural discussion

Convenors: Mayo Buenafe-Ze, University of San Francisco and Leiden University; Gener Cabaldo, National Commission of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines; Tessa Minter, Leiden University

Discussants: Mayo Buenafe-Ze, University of San Francisco and Leiden University; Gener Cabaldo, National Commission of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines; Marian Sanchez, Luke Foundation, Inc. (Baguio City, Philippines)

Abstract: Hunter-gatherers are among the most vulnerable groups affected by natural disasters and climate change, yet relief aid is often inconsistent or culturally inappropriate. Discussants compare and contrast knowledge and experiences of hunter-gatherers and other disaster-affected indigenous communities regarding relief management in this session.

Keywords: natural disasters, relief aid, indigenous communities, modifications, resilience

Format: panel and roundtable

Precirculated papers: none required


Seasonal forces of nature which take the form of typhoons, hurricanes, flash floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc. have been a reality faced by hunter-gatherers and other indigenous communities for centuries. But their knowledge and experiences on how to prepare for and re-build after the destruction has rarely been documented or included in the climate change discourse. Many relief aid organisations target helping these communities, but the products and services given are often inconsistent or culturally inappropriate to their needs.

Relief aid comes in various packages: food and water supplies, clothing, cash assistance, and sometimes shelter rehabilitation and livelihood assistance. Accessing these goods and services, how to use them, or if there is a choice to self-determine how to utilise aid, varies among different hunter-gatherer communities. Furthermore, historical interdependencies with other social groups who live around hunter-gatherer settlements, access and proximity to areas where aid is distributed, and perceived versus actual benefits these services offer are some examples of factors influencing how hunter-gatherers use this aid. By discussing the complexities surrounding how various hunter-gatherer communities cope with natural disasters and use relief aid, we also describe the factors which lead to modifications in their mobility, housing, livelihood, etc. after these natural disasters occur.

What is "culturally appropriate" relief aid for hunter-gatherers? What are ineffective or unsuccessful practices of relief aid management and what are the causes? Why do some hunter-gatherer groups choose to avail of assistance programmes, and why do others choose not to? What factors influence hunter-gatherer decisions of using relief aid? This panel explores the complexities of these questions and invites researchers, relief aid agency workers, and indigenous participants to provide a cross-cultural discussion to compare how hunter-gatherers and other indigenous peoples cope and adjust to the changes brought by these natural disasters, their stories of resilience, and the positive and negative impacts of relief aid.




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