Filipino poor among world’s most at-risk to disasters
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2013 - 4:54pm

MANILA, Philippines - If two equally intense cyclones hit both the Philippines and Japan, 17 times more Filipinos than Japanese would be killed, a recently released international study shows.

Citing “ineffective governance” and substandard housing as reasons, a report by International Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) based in Geneva, Switzerland revealed that Filipinos living below poverty line suffer the most from natural disasters.

Author Justin Ginnetti, IDMC’s adviser on natural disasters, said a far greater number of Filipinos would also be displaced if calamities hit than those in other nations due to socio-economic disparities in the country.

‘‘Filipinos are disproportionately affected by such hazards as compared to other nations with comparable populations exposed to similar hazards,” Ginnetti said.

The organization’s latest report found out that 450,000 people were displaced due to the impact of tropical storm "Sendong" that swept through southern Mindanao in December 2011.

Many Sendong victims, meanwhile, were found to be even worse off after the storm, with 67 percent of them experienced displacement once again when typhoon Pablo hit last December, according to the report.

Although the Philippine government designated urban slums, sand bars, riverbanks and unstable hillsides as “no build zones,” 77 percent of those severely affected by the storm lived in such areas and below the poverty line, Ginnetti added.

He also pointed out how local policies are placed and have the potential to ensure that people live in safety and away from hazards.

The problem lies, however, in the poverty rate and malpractice in governance, Ginnetti said.

“The combination of high poverty and a pervasive system of patronage politics, results in a situation where a large percentage of the population is forced to live in exactly these places,” he added.

The report calls on faith-based and civil society organizations to take the lead over government in reaching out to hazard-prone areas and their residents.

“In a country where local officials are often castrated by corruption, people cannot depend on the government. Instead they turn to the church, to civil society groups or to each other for assistance. It is the people and these types of institutions that form the strong backbone of Filipino society,” Ginnetti said.

ALTHOUGH THE PHILIPPINE AUTHOR JUSTIN GINNETTI FILIPINOS GINNETTI INTERNATIONAL DISPLACEMENT MONITORING CENTRE MANY SENDONG MINDANAO PEOPLE PHILIPPINES AND JAPAN SENDONG
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