Most Filipinos believe not being ready for disasters — Harvard study
MANILA, Philippines — Majority of Filipino households feel they are not fully prepared should disasters strike, a recent survey from Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) DisasterNet Philippines has revealed.
The survey conducted from March 2017 to April 2017 showed that among 4,368 households, only 36 percent said they are fully prepared for disasters while 74 percent admitted they were unable to invest in disaster preparations.
Of the Filipino households who said they are unprepared for disasters or the 47.5 percent who were surveyed, cited the lack of funds for being unprepared while 20 percent cited the lack of time. The study noted that in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARM)) alone, 92 percent reported insufficient funds for disaster preparations.
Nearly 47 percent of survey respondents admitted not having done nothing to prepare for a natural disaster during the last five years, the study said.
Even though most or 83 percent of those surveyed claimed to have discussed emergency plans with family members when prompted, 82 percent admitted that they do not have ‘go-bags’ or emergency kits while 62 percent said they do not even have first aid kits.
The study also pointed out that very few Filipinos are adequately insured for disasters, with only 19 percent claiming to have life insurance, 56 percent having health or medical insurance, 3 percent having home insurance, and 2.5 percent having asset insurance.
Level of preparedness
The HHI study also noted that Filipinos who live in areas frequently impacted by typhoons felt they were more prepared for disasters.
In Eastern Visayas, 52 percent of residents felt very prepared for disasters as compared to 49 percent in Bicol, 44 percent in Western Visayas, and 32 percent in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Advance discussions on disasters at the household level were likewise high in Bicol, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas, the study said.
The lowest level of preparedness was in Northern Mindanao with only 31 percent.
In addition, most Filipinos believe they are self-reliant in preparing for a disaster and cited their experience with previous disasters as the reason for being prepared for future incidents.
Damage and recovery
The study also revealed that a large portion of the population or 42 percent had experienced significant damage to property, assets, and had been displaced from their homes due to a disaster.
In Eastern Visayas which was severely hit by Typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013, about 97 percent of homes were either partially damaged or completely destroyed at some point by a disaster.
At a national average, 16 percent of the population had been displaced for at least a week while 7 percent for more than three months, the study said.
While enduring disasters, the study has shown that the perceptions of Filipinos on their ability to cope and recover from a disaster was “limited.”
Only 22 percent of the respondents said they were confident they would be able to recover from a disaster in the near future while 32 percent felt they would have difficulty recovering.
People in the Visayas noted the longest periods of time required to recover from disasters, the study said.
In terms of assistance, a large amount of support Filipinos receive in the aftermath of a disaster was provided by local government units (LGUs) at 52 percent. This is consistent with the country’s national disaster management policies, the study said.
The assistance provided after a disaster came in the form of food and water (57 percent), emergency shelter (5 percent), medicine (8 percent), temporary employment or cash (4 percent), or livelihood assistance (4 percent.)
Meanwhile, a small portion of the population reported receiving housing and relocation assistance which is only at 9 percent in Central Luzon, 6 percent in Northern Mindanao, and 5 percent in Eastern Visayas.
A small portion of Filipinos also reported receiving temporary employment and cash-for-work assistance with the exception of those living in the Eastern Visayas which is at 20 percent and Western Visayas at 17 percent.
HHI said the study aimed to highlight people’s perceptions of their own level of disaster resilience and experience with disaster preparedness systems in the Philippines.
“The HHI report offers important insights into the way Filipinos understand and prepare for a variety of natural hazards that they face. The first nationwide survey of its kind in the Philippines, the data offer a rich look into material levels of preparedness, Filipinos’ views on climate change and its anticipated impacts and offers unique reflections on Filipinos’ expectations of who is responsible for disaster response,” HHI Resilient Communities Program Director Vincenzo Bollettino said in a statement.
“As an archipelago located in the Pacific Rim of Fire, the Philippines is exposed to an array of natural hazards. How Filipinos understand their own exposure to these hazards and the steps they take to cope with them is crucial to formulating relevant national policy and planning,” he added.
The survey participants were selected using a nationally representative sample of randomly selected adults aged 18 years and above, representing all Philippines economic strata.
A total of 4,368 interviews were conducted, with 240 household interviews in each of the 18 regions of the country with oversampling in the NCR. /muf