Typhoon Haiyan: Pushing the Limits of Resilience?

The Effect of Land Inequality on Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction Policies in the Philippines

Author: Colin Walch


Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) has been an important priority in the Philippines for the last twenty years. Yet Typhoon Haiyan still resulted in at least 6 ,000 deaths and affected more than fourteen million people. Why was this the case in a country supposedly well equipped to respond to natural disasters? While there are several explanations, including the sheer scale of this typhoon, corruption, and implementation challenges, this paper focuses on growing social and economic inequalities. This paper argues that the resilience discourse and framework at the national level do not translate into programs that help lift people out of poverty, particularly landless people. This is because state-led resilience policies focus on technical aspects of recovery rather than the root cause of vulnerabilities, explaining to some extent the high level of casualties in the wake of typhoon Haiyan. Evidence supporting this argument is drawn from more than forty interviews between 2013 and 2015 with disaster victims and professionals involved in resilience building.

Countries: Philippines

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