Geneva - A new report released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) shows how ineffective urban governance combined with substandard housing leaves the poorest Filipinos the most exposed, yet the least well equipped to cope with natural hazards.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most at-risk nations to multiple hazards such as cyclones, floods and earthquakes. ‘Filipinos are disproportionately affected by such hazards as compared to other nations with comparable populations exposed to similar hazards’, says Justin Ginnetti, IDMC’s advisor on natural disasters and the author of the latest report.
‘To put this in context, if two cyclones of equal intensity were to hit both the Philippines and Japan, 17 times as many Filipinos than Japanese would be killed, and a far greater number of Filipinos would be displaced, all due to the greater socio-economic vulnerability of Filipinos’.
IDMC’s latest report on disaster-induced internal displacement in the Philippines focusses on the impact of tropical storm Washi which struck the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao in December 2011. It reveals that of the almost 450,000 people internally displaced by the storm, the great majority had been living in urban slums, on sand bars, along riverbanks or on unstable hillsides, all high-risk environments that the Government of the Philippines had previously designated as ‘No Build Zones’.
‘As a result of the Philippines’ constitution and political system, local government officials have autonomy on issues such as enforcing local building codes and land use plans, both of which can ensure that people live in safety, away from the most hazard-prone areas’ says Ginnetti. ‘Yet the combination of high poverty and a pervasive system of patronage politics, results in a situation where a large percentage of the population is forced to live in exactly these places’.
According to one survey, 77% of those affected were living below the poverty line prior to their displacement by Washi, and 64% are even worse off now. A follow-up survey revealed that approximately half of those who lost their homes due to Washi were displaced two or more times in total, and this second survey was conducted before Super Typhoon Bopha struck Mindanao in December.
With 50% of the voting public in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan having been displaced by Washi, IDMC report calls on civil society and faith based organisations to take the lead. ‘In a country where the local officials are often castrated by corruption, people cannot depend on the government’ says Ginnetti. ‘Instead they turn to the church, to civil society groups or to each other for assistance. It is the people and these types of institutions that form the strong backbone of Filipino society.’
For more information, please contact:
Head of Communications
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
Mobile: 41 79 379 89 52
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is a world leader in the monitoring and analysis of the causes, effects and responses to internal displacement. Through its monitoring and analysis of people internally displaced by conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations, and natural or human-made disasters, IDMC raises awareness and advocates for respect of the rights of at-risk and uprooted peoples .
IDMC is part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). For more information, visit our website at www.internal‐displacement.org
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