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July/August 2004

Announcement of a new publication

The role of local institutions in reducing vulnerability to recurrent natural disasters and in sustainable livelihoods development in high risk areas

Case study: Ilo-Ilo Province, The Philippines

This case study on the role of local level institutions in reducing vulnerability to recurrent natural disasters and in sustainable livelihoods development in high risk areas is written for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to contribute to the understanding of the role of local institutions and organizations in the design and implementation of disaster risk management strategies, as well as the role of local authorities in building community social capital for disaster prevention and preparedness. This understanding will provide insight and guidance on how disaster risk management may be integrated into development strategies.

The Philippines is considered to be one of the most disaster prone countries in the world due to its geo-physical location and socio-economic conditions. The Dumangas Municipality in the Ilo-Ilo Province of the Philippines has been chosen for this case study because of its vulnerability to the climatic hazards such as typhoons, floods and droughts. An exercise has been undertaken to analyse the role of local institutions in disaster managements with reference to recent natural hazards.

Most of the vulnerable households livelihoods are so fragile and delicately balanced in this area and even a minor shock could endanger the security of households. Although the distinction is always not clear cut, it is useful to distinguish between household shocks (idiosyncratic shocks) that are household specific and shocks that impinges on entire community i.e. community shocks (covarient). When the societal mechanism works well, household specific shocks (such as illness or death of a breadwinner or a theft of the livestock) may not require outside intervention, community shocks such as crop failure over a vast area due to natural hazard could affect every one in the community to some degree requiring outside intervention. Hence, the role of community based institutions assume significance to assist communities to prepare for respond to and recover from a natural hazard associated shock.

This study is based on the premise that successful disaster risk mitigation and management, as well as rural development, requires that central government line ministries and departments get better linked with local actors, including traditional authorities and civil society, and that actions and resources are better coordinated and decentralized according to the comparative advantages of local actors. These advantages include local perspectives into policy making and rural development planning, two-way communication with higher policy levels, implementation of rural development activities at local level, mobilizing local participation, and handling emergencies at the local level with conscious links to reconstruction, prevention and preparedness phases of disaster risk management.

Click here to view the document.

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