Because of its location in the Pacific Rim of Fire, the Philippines is considered one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. In November 2013, Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan) hit the Philippines, resulting in the death of over 6000 people. The typhoon also rendered hundreds of thousands of people homeless while damages to property and the economy were estimated to be at over PhP30 billion. With climate change knocking on the world’s doorstep, the effects of typhoons, droughts and other natural calamities have intensified.

Poverty has exacerbated the effects of natural calamities on the Filipino people. Many of the poor do not have access to resources that could otherwise mitigate the effects of natural disasters. With many of the poor earning less than P100 per day, natural disasters wipe out what little finances and savings the poor have. Buffer food stocks are scarce while the price of food, especially in cases of disasters such as Haiyan, tend to be beyond the reach of low-income families.

Government preparations for natural disasters such as Haiyan are often inadequate to minimize the effects of natural disasters on the poor. Effective mitigation and adaptation techniques on a nationwide scale have yet to be finalized and implemented. In addition, accusations of corruption during relief distribution and rehabilitation operations abound, further lessening the resources the poor can tap to rebuild their lives.

(Photo from Getty Images)

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