Despite the institutionalization of volcano eruption early warning and response systems, casualties are still seen among local farmers who are reluctant to evacuate or prematurely return to their farms for saving livelihoods and taking care of animals that remained behind. Case studies and media records show the importance of understanding cultural belief systems when developing contingency plans. For example, in 2010 the spiritual gatekeeper of Mount Merapi in Indonesia and people who took guidance from him did not evacuate. Traditional outlooks generally consider risk rationales that differ from scientific risk calculation and modelling. By reviewing literature from different scientific disciplines in relation to volcano eruptions and livestock emergency preparedness, we identify differences in the underlying risk and control paradigms, including the meaning given to volcanos and livestock. A framework for addressing and attuning cultural differences in risk and control strategies is explored to enhance local learning and participation. With disaster emergencies on the rise, lessons from this study can be useful for strengthening culture sensitive emergency management and preparedness programme design and implementation.
Marjan Leneman has been trained in veterinary epidemiology and culture anthropology at the universities of Utrecht, Harare and Reading and has worked in private veterinary practice, for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN and the International Livestock Research Institute. She has since worked for companies and organisations on risk strategies and organisational development. Her international consultancies concern the fields of One Health, emergency preparedness, behavioural research, social inclusive development and capacity building.