The Philippines, Living in Typhoon Valley

The "Unrecorded Need"

‘Typhoon Valley’ could not be a more suitable name for the Philippines. In 2017, hurricanes, typhoons, and volcanic eruptions impacted the 7,100 islands, subjecting a population of more than 100 million to environmental crises.

Frequent armed conflict between the government and the numerous rebel groups posed further obstacles, exacerbating the already hazardous lifestyles Filipinos were forced to lead as a result of habiting in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Sadly, for most of the Philippine population, disaster is a way of life. Based on government data, 915,985 households were affected by various emergencies last year. This equates to approximately 4.3 million people. 48,863 houses were damaged as a result of environmental disasters.

The Marawi Conflict

As alarming as the number of people in need of emergency shelter is, the recent Marawi conflict highlights the need to be cautious when analyzing the number of people in need of emergency shelter.

During conflict, especially protracted ones, affected communities tend to be displaced abruptly and frequently. This makes recording difficult.

The most vulnerable during crises are children, women, the elderly, persons with disabilities and tribal minorities. Isolated communities are often the most affected, given their lack of access to immediate assistance.

A significant portion of the Philippine population, 29%, belongs to the 10-14 age group. During the Marawi crisis for example, 31,000 students were displaced, with grave consequences to their education among other issues.

Emergency Response Challenges

Although the Philippines is a middle-income country with a developing economy and a relatively stable democracy, the country faces considerable challenges when responding to emergencies.

The lack of international attention to what are deemed as smaller emergencies, like those in the Philippines, does not help.

Take the case of Tropical Storm Kai-tak, an emergency requiring $70 million. Only $3.6 million was raised last year by the international community for this emergency. This amount represents just 5% of the financial requirement.

The case of the Philippines highlights three important issues to consider when responding:

1. Given its location, humanitarian disasters are a way of life, impacting on the development of individuals and the nation.

2. The Philippines has received very little international attention, in part because of its status as a middle income country and the relative capacity of the government to address crises.

3. The number of people in need of shelter increases every year in the country. This situation is not reflected in the FTS data, indicating that although 26.5 million people were left out of shelter provision, the real number is, in most likelihood, higher.

See page 16-17 of the report for details and references.

Read the Report

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