Content presented from Save the Children's Resource Centre. Click here to see the full library »

Localising the Humanitarian Toolkit: Lessons from recent Philippines disasters

This report was written by Rebecca Barber on behalf of Save the Children and the ASEAN Agreement for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Partnership Group (APG). It forms part of an overall reflection led by the Save the Children Asia Regional Office on the 'new paradigm' of humanitarian assistance in Asia.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. It experiences around 900 earthquakes and typhoons annually, and almost three quarters of the population are vulnerable to natural hazards. This vulnerability is increasing, as changing weather patterns mean that lower-­‐intensity storms are accompanied by heavier rainfall – a phenomenon illustrated by the particularly high casualty figures and enormous economic losses caused by relatively low-­‐intensity storms in recent years. The typical path of typhoons across the Philippines is also shifting, meaning that increasingly, storms are hitting communities with very little experience of tropical storms. This poses enormous challenges to the efforts being made by the national government to improve disaster preparedness and response across the country, as well as for international actors seeking to assist them.

The Philippines has taken great strides in recent years in improving its disaster management capacity. It has one of the most robust legal frameworks in the world for disaster risk management, and strong capacity and commitment within government departments to address disaster risk. But with disaster risk expected to increase, enormous challenges remain. Despite a strong legal framework for disaster risk reduction and management, implementation at the local level remains challenged by a lack of resources and capacity; there remain gaps in the ability of both national and international actors to appropriately target the needs of vulnerable groups; and the positioning of the national coordinating body for disaster management within the Department of National Defence (DND), in a context in which populations are affected simultaneously by both conflict and natural disaster, poses challenges for agencies striving to ensure adherence to humanitarian principles. The Philippines thus provides a case study of the challenges faced by national governments throughout the region in managing rapidly increasing disaster risk. But more than this, it provides an illustration of the shifting roles of national, regional and international actors in disaster management.

Published 2013-09-04

Related Documents