Indigenous Peoples have been contending with destructive weather like cyclones, flooding, and drought for centuries -- as the development community has sometimes belatedly discovered. Nine of DM2009's winners are projects that tap into that special know-how to help indigenous communities survive the increasingly destructive weather that climate change brings.
Indigenous know-how is invariably practical and low-cost -- like the winner from Samoa. That project would build three traditional Samoan houses -- called fale, for "open house" -- as models of "safer, accessible, resilient, and sustainable housing."
Here's how a fale is built, as described in a fascinating story on the East Asia & Pacific website of the World Bank: The structure is "lashed and tied together with afa -- an organic sennit rope. Afa is made by twisting together the fibers of dry coconut husks. The lashing work is traditionally done by elderly men while women make the thatch for the domed roof of the fale – either from coconut palm leaves or sugar cane." (Photo after recent rain shows 80-year-old Pousea, ceremonial house in Samoa that was restored by DM winner Afeafe o Vaetoefaga Pacific Academy of Cultural Restoration, Research, and Development two years ago.)