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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 Philippine is considered to be one of the 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 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.

Conceptual frame work and key definition

The definition and conceptual framework adopted are:-

Natural Hazard: Probability of occurrence of potentially damaging natural phenomenon in a given area.

Vulnerability: Propensity of a society to experience damage, disruption and causalities as a result of a hazard.

Disaster Risk: Function of probability of the specified natural hazard event and vulnerability of societal systems.

Capacity: Policies and institutional systems at the National and local household levels to reduce hazard damaging potentials and reduce vulnerability.

Natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and droughts, spring to mind when the word disaster is mentioned. Yet these events are in fact natural agents that transform a vulnerable human condition into a disaster. Disaster risk is a product of the frequency and intensity of hazards and the vulnerability of livelihood systems. The role of societal systems in terms of community resilience and management systems could alter the hazard characteristics and reduce vulnerability through systematic interventions. Hence, the capacity of societal systems could act as a denominator in the disaster risk equation to determine the levels of risks. This is illustrated in the figure below:

Methodology: In accordance with the Terms of Reference for the case study, the following methodology was followed:

1. Information gathering on the types of organizations and committees existing at the local level, their resources and the risk prevention activities they undertake. Minutes of meetings, government records and reports, including financial records and records of transaction with the central government were accessed.

2. Focus group discussions with disaster victims on their experiences, their perceptions and definition of risk, the resources at their disposal, including social capital and capacity to manage risks.

3. Interviews with the local government unit at the municipal and barangay levels, chief of the punong barangays, head of the irrigators association and other stakeholders, highly vulnerable groups in the selected sites, and government officials at the National and provincial levels.

The municipality of Dumangas was selected since the area is frequented by floods, and affected by typhoons and drought. Its municipal disaster coordinating council was recognized as the best in 2003 and received a 'Presidential Award' in institutionalizing disaster preparedness and emergency response. Within the Dumangas municipality 3 barangays have been selected considering differing risk levels to natural hazards. While barangay Balud is in low lying area and exposed to typhoon flooding every alternate year, barangay Maquina is in elevated area and exposed to typhoon flooding every 3 to 5 years and barangay Barasan is located in less flood prone area and relatively safe (however, typhoons once in 15 to 20 years could cause damage).

Analysis of the information gathered was undertaken within the following framework:

1. Assessment of the existing framework within the selected communities, and the nature, constraints, incentives and capacities within the existing institutions.

2. Review of:

3. Identification of participatory approaches, concrete actions and possible institutional innovations that have strengthened or will strengthen local level capacities for disaster risk management and long-term development in high risk areas.

Structure of the Report

The report is structure into four sections viz.

Section I:

Provides over view of local institutions, hazards, vulnerability and disaster management and risk dimensions.

Section II:

The role of local institutions in managing 2000 typhoon and floods and 2003 floods

Section III:

An assessment on the role of local institutions in managing disasters

Section IV:

Conclusions and recommendations

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