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Study says most PH households unprepared for disasters

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By Minerva Newman

CEBU CITY – A recent study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) DisasterNet Philippines revealed that only 36 percent of households in the country was “very prepared” for disasters, with the majority citing money as the main reason that has prevented them from preparing more adequately for calamities.

FLOOD DAMAGE – Floodwaters swept away a section of road in Bulan, Sorsogon. Floods and landslides triggered by Usman have killed 75 people so far, and the death toll could still rise. (EPAEFE FILE PHOTO)

FLOOD DAMAGE – Floodwaters swept away a section of road in Bulan, Sorsogon.
Floods and landslides triggered by Usman have killed 75 people so far, and the death toll could still rise. (EPAEFE FILE PHOTO)

The study also said respondents living in areas more frequently impacted by typhoons perceived themselves as being more prepared.

The HHI study surveyed 4,368 Filipino households across the country and 74 percent said they were unable to invest in disaster preparedness due to lack of funds and lack of time.

The study was conducted in 2017 that aims to highlight people’s perceptions of their own level of disaster resilience and experience with disaster preparedness systems in the Philippines.

HHI Resilient Communities Program Director Vincenzo Bollettino said the HHI report offered important insights into the way Filipinos understand and prepare for a variety of natural hazards that they face.

“In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) alone, 92 percent reported insufficient funds,” the study read.

The study also bared that, despite massive campaigns from the public and private sector groups and the media, nearly 47 percent of respondents claimed to have done nothing to prepare for a natural hazard in the last five years.

Although most respondents at 83 percent claimed to have discussed emergency plans with family members, 82 percent still said they did not have a “go-bag” or emergency kit, and 62 percent did not have first aid kit.

What was striking, the study said, was that very few Filipinos are adequately insured to deal with disasters. Only 19 percent claimed to have life insurance, 56 percent had health or medical insurance, three percent had home insurance, and two and a half percent had asset insurance.

The study also revealed that 38 percent of Filipinos have difficulty recovering from a disaster in the near future and only 22 percent were confident they would be able to recover.

“People living in the Visayas noted the longest periods of time required to recover from disasters,” the study noted.

Aside from preparedness, the study also tackled other measures of resilience such as, adaptability, coping, and recovery.

It showed that a large portion of the population at 42 percent had experienced significant damage to property, assets and had been displaced from their homes due to a disaster.

In Eastern Visayas which was severely hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, 97 percent of homes were either partially damaged or completely destroyed. At a national average, 16 percent of the population had been displaced for at least a week and seven percent for more than three months.

In terms of assistance, the most support comes from the local government units (LGUs) in the form of food and water, emergency shelter, medicine, temporary employment or cash, or livelihood assistance.

Only a small portion of the population reported receiving housing and relocation assistance: nine percent in Central Luzon, six percent in Northern Mindanao, and five percent in Eastern Visayas.

Temporary employment and cash-for-work represented a small portion of overall aid received by Filipinos with the exception of those living in Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas at 20 percent and 17 percent respectively.

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