Received: 30 October 2016 / Accepted: 27 June 2017/ Published online: 10 July 2017
The residents of Cat Hai Island were able to preserve their traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in predicting storms and floods.
Although TEK on storm and flood prediction was widely used by the residents, the knowledge was not integrated into the current disaster risk management (DRM) scheme of the island.
The DRM of the island can be improved by integrating relevant TEK.
The very real threat of climate change requires effective disaster risk management (DRM), especially in highly vulnerable ecosystems such as island communities. Past disaster experiences in different parts of the world have revealed the importance of integrating traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) with scientific findings in managing disaster risk. Hence, this study assessed the role of TEK in the DRM strategies of communities in Cat Hai Island, Vietnam. Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques such as key informant interviews, household survey, and focus group discussion were used to collect primary data. The survey was administered to 50 residents of three communes in Cat Hai Town. Results showed that the respondents use their TEK together with information from the mass media in predicting, preparing for and coping with the impacts of weather-related disasters such as floods and storms. The results of this study could be used in creating an effective community-based DRM program for the above mentioned communities. The lessons from this study could serve as a reference and guide for other coastal communities that are vulnerable to weather-related disasters and climate change.