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Why does community-based disaster risk reduction fail to learn from local knowledge? Experiences from Malawi

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It is often taken as a given that community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) serves as a mechanism for the inclusion of local knowledge (LK) in disaster risk reduction (DRR). In this paper, through in-depth qualitative analysis of empirical data from Malawi, we investigate the extent to which CBDRR in practice really takes into account LK. This research argues that LK is underutilised in CBDRR and finds that current practice provides a limited opportunity for the inclusion of LK, due to five prime obstacles: i) current approach to community participation, ii) financial constraints and capacity of external stakeholders, iii) the donor landscape, iv) information consolidation and sharing, and v) external stakeholders' attitudes towards LK. In CBDRR, a strong dichotomy between local and scientific knowledge is maintained, and further re-examination of community-based approaches in practice is needed to make them truly transformative.