• community participation;
  • coping strategies;
  • flood hazards;
  • local spatial knowledge;
  • manageability;
  • participatory geographic information system;
  • the Philippines;
  • risks;
  • seasonality;
  • vulnerability

The accumulated knowledge and perceptions of communities ‘at risk’ are key elements in managing disaster risk at the local level. This paper demonstrates that local knowledge of flood hazards can be structured systematically into geographic information system (GIS) outputs. When combined with forecasting models and risk scenarios, they strengthen the legitimacy of local knowledge of at-risk populations. This is essential for effective disaster risk reduction practices by external actors, local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and municipal authorities. The research focused on understanding coping strategies and ‘manageability’ of flood hazards as defined by communities. ‘Manageability’ is how people experience flooding in relation to their household capacity and the coping mechanisms available. The research in the Philippines highlights the significance of localised factors, including socioeconomic resources, livelihoods, seasonality and periodicity, for understanding manageability. The manageability concept improves practice at the municipal level by legitimising local coping strategies, providing better indicators, and developing understanding of flooding as a recurrent threat.