Eighteen months after being heavily affected by Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009, many residents in poor communities are still struggling 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: The recovery of communities in Metro Mania and Luzon” 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. Qualitative research was undertaken in 19 sites, while quantitative data was collected from Southville 5A, Binan, Laguna (“off-city” resettlement site) and Eusébio Bliss, Maybunga, Pasig (“in-city” resettlement site). These communities were selected for the qualitative 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.
Based on its findings, the SIM study recommends the following strategies for introducing changes in the current practice of disaster preparation, urban and rural reconstruction, and urban renewal (see page 97-101 of report for details of these suggestions):
• Local government units (LGU) are required to put in place a disaster risk reduction and management plan. The NDRRMC could help LGUs in this task by:
o Provide the necessary technical assistance and monitoring system that would enable LGUs to develop plans responsive to local conditions and needs.
o Respond to the need expressed in the communities to participate in disaster prevention and adaptation by extending disaster preparedness training to the household level.
• The SIM highlighted the indispensable role of both the barangay and municipal/city governance units. This role could be strengthened by the following:
o The DSWD could enhance its support for LGUs by improving the MSWDO’s procedures to identify vulnerable groups and their relief and recovery needs.
o The DILG and the LGUs could help in the institutionalization of disparate community efforts in barangay “clean up programs” by monitoring the implementation of RA 9003 and RA 10121.
o The DILG could ensure that resettlement would not disrupt the poor’s access to basic services by addressing medium- and long-term governance issues in communities which have been administratively re-defined by resettlement.
• The SIM shows flooding and landslide as a recurrent experience in many communities. Agencies tasked to plan for such eventualities could lessen the impact of staying in temporary shelters by:
o Ensuring that spaces in evacuation centers where molestation and physical attacks are known to happen are well-constructed, well-lighted, guarded, or made visible to public view.
o Making projections on the number of evacuees and allocating adequate space for each, if relocation and resettlement are not feasible.
• The SIM shows that communities expect governmental response in the form of sustainable livelihood assistance. However, it also points out that many members of the affected communities are unskilled. TESDA, DOST and DTI could create a market for the products and the skills of the poor by:
o Establishing partnerships between the LGUs/government agencies and the private sector/NGOS by, on the one hand, apprising corporations, groups, and individuals of communities in need and, on the other, bringing knowledge of the market and technological innovation.
• The situation in rural areas and the consequent demand for infrastructure rehabilitation to mitigate and adapt to natural disasters highlights that certain community needs can only be addressed by the national government. The DPWH, DSWD, and the LGUs could support suitable responses by:
o Supporting recovery efforts assistance that are primarily large-scale infrastructure projects aimed at keeping communities safe: seawalls, dikes, dams, ripraps, evacuation centers, and resettlement sites.
o Making information about disaster prone areas in the country accessible to concerned citizens, and in the absence of existing data, conducting a technical study to determine whether in any affected, community relocation and resettlement should be done instead of undertaking infrastructure projects and vice versa.
• The results of the SIM emphasize the advantages of in-city resettlement, even as they also underline the difficulties brought about by its relatively higher amortization rate; the lack of mechanisms that enables government planners and implementers to consider the needs of communities to be resettled; and the inadequacy of the existing information and communication system. The NHA, DSWD, and the LGUs could address these gaps by continuing to:
o Improve the system for apprising prospective resettlement clients of the payment scheme of housing units, the location and facilities available in the resettlement site, and the presence/absence of environmental risks in the site.
o Find ways to provide in-city resettlement options.
o Devise ways to offer more affordable amortization schemes. As confirmed by the survey in Eusebio Bliss, residents in in-city resettlement sites have difficulties in paying the amortization of their units, as these are likely to be the more costly medium- and high-rise buildings.
An online copy of the report is available at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/philippines. Printed copies of “The Social Impact of Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng” are also available at the Institute of Philippine Culture at a subsidized price of P250 per copy.