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Philippines: Typhoon-Affected Communities Cope, Seek Involvement in Disaster Preparedness

News Release No:12/28

Contacts:
In Manila: David Llorito (632) 917-3047
E-mail: dllorito@worldbank.org
Kitchie Hermoso (632) 917-3013
E-mail: mhermoso@worldbank.org
In Washington: Mohamad al-Arief 1 (202) 458-5964
E-mail: malarief@worldbank.org

MANILA, MARCH 30, 2012—Many residents in poor communities that were heavily affected by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009 are still struggling to recover due to lack of assets and working capital to restore their livelihood lost to the floods.

This is one of the key findings of a qualitative study completed recently by the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC) based at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Using focus group discussions and key informants interviews, the study titled “The Social Impact of Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng” probes into the long-term effects of the twin disasters that hit the country in 2009.

The study was supported by a trust fund from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) administered by the World Bank.

Twenty one (21) rural and urban communities were selected for the study based on several criteria including the severity of the storms’ impact and the community’s degree of social cohesion which influences their ability to mobilize resources. The researchers also considered a range of settlements exposed to different types of environmental vulnerability: coastal, lake side, riverine and mountainous communities.

The study says that since 2009, these communities reported overall reduction in incomes due to loss of assets and working capital.

The study notes that affected residents’ assets, savings and working capital for livelihood activities were dissipated as they had to spend more for basic needs including food, water, and medicines as well as rebuilding their houses and shops damaged by the raging floodwaters.

Wage workers primarily in urban areas may have recovered fully,” the study says. “But for farmers, fishers, small business owners, and informal sector workers, the disasters have long-term impacts.”

Some disaster victims who used to have farms or own small business ended up taking less profitable and less secure occupations like vending and construction work.

The availability of working capital is the key missing element in recovery efforts,” the study says.

After the typhoons, affected communities took various coping strategies to survive, including having multiple odd jobs; borrowing more from friends, relatives and informal lenders; reducing food consumption. In some cases, children are no longer able to attend school as families lack the money to cover school expenses and transportation costs.

That is why, the study notes, many residents in the affected areas, even in danger zones, are wary about relocating far away from their barangays (villages) or the city for fear that they will not have livelihood in resettlement areas and have no access to basic community services.

They also fear losing their current social support mechanisms – their network of friends, neighbors and relatives who can help in times of difficulties.

After Ondoy and Pepeng, the government relocated some affected communities in danger zones to various sites. The study conducted surveys in an off-city (outside Metro Manila) resettlement area (Southville 5A, Lankiwa, Biñan, Laguna) and an in-city (within Metro Manila) resettlement area (Eusebio Bliss, Pasig City) to compare the impact of these two approaches on the welfare of resettled households.

Overall, respondents in both areas reported improvements in their living conditions: better housing, improved access to sanitation, electricity, and garbage disposal. Access to piped water was a serious challenge in both sites, as was access to livelihoods, the study notes.

Negative impacts were, however, stronger in the off-city resettlement area (Southville 5A), where two out of three households reported decreased income,” says the study. “Those resettled off-city also experienced higher cost of living particularly due to higher spending for transport in getting to work and school.”

Hence, the study says that, save for constraints like higher amortization rates, communities generally considered in-city resettlement as the best option to enable households to retain access to livelihood and employment opportunities as well as minimize disruptions to essential social support networks.

Besides a general preference for in-city resettlement, communities covered in the social impact study also highlighted the importance of strengthening local disaster preparedness activities focusing on the following:

• Putting in place a local system for relief and recovery operations;
• Inclusion of the entire community in disaster preparedness training; and
• Acquisition of basic equipment for relief operations.




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