Rajang Riverine Communities in Sarawak : Living and Coping with Disasters

Ng, Iris Pei Yi (2018) Rajang Riverine Communities in Sarawak : Living and Coping with Disasters. Masters thesis, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).

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This research examines the perceptions of riverine communities along Rajang River in Sarawak towards the occurrences of disasters such as severe flood, riverbank erosion, and fire. Such occurrences cause damages and losses to their livelihoods. The idea of “disaster” is alien to the local communities and most of the times they have their local interpretation especially cultural-based explanation. The perception of disaster is looked through the local context and how these communities react to these events. A disaster management mechanism is in place, under the Sarawak Welfare Department (JKMNS). However, the mechanism is towards the role and coordination of various agencies in the event of disaster. At the riverine community’s level, there exist only the protocol to inform the District Office about a disaster and in severe cases, evacuation is the usual action taken. While awaiting aid to arrive, the riverine communities are left on their own to cope with the untoward happenings. A better disaster management and intervention mechanism should be in place to reduce social, economic as well as psychological impact of the victims. The empirical data for this research were gathered through interview and observation in 29 longhouses and villages along the Rajang River. Headmen of these villages and longhouses are interviewed on their views and experiences about disasters. Additionally, rituals are documented to grasp a better understanding of how riverine communities perceive disasters happen and how they cope with. Disasters are perceived as uncontrollable events but with reasons. The religious riverine communities hold the view that disasters happened due to rapid development and industrialisation. They normally adhere to the directives of the authorities by informing the District Office and wait for aid to arrive. On the other hand, the communities who are still practicing the traditional adat religion perceive that disasters are the impact of distorted human action. Thus, some of them blame such happenings as actions that have inflicted and angered the spiritual world. While waiting for government aid to arrive, the communities hold rituals to appease the spirits or “antu”. Religious beliefs play an important role in how the riverine communities in Rajang River perceive the cause and occurrence of disasters. Religious beliefs therefore influence the kind of resilience measures taken by the communities. The study is embedded in Cultural theory introduced by Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky in 1982, which is important to discuss individual perceptions and interpretations towards the risks surround them.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Thesis (M.Soc.Sci.) -- Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 2018.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Disaster, resilience, vulnerability, religious belief, Rajang River, riverine disaster, disaster management, disaster relief protocol, unimas, university, universiti, Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, ipta, education, Postgraduate, research, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Academic Faculties, Institutes and Centres > Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities
Faculties, Institutes, Centres > Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities
Depositing User: Gani
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2019 01:55
Last Modified: 17 May 2023 09:15
URI: http://ir.unimas.my/id/eprint/26611

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