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Study finds most Filipinos ‘not fully ready for disasters’

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By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

ONLY 36% of Filipino households reported “feeling fully prepared for disasters,” according to a study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) DisasterNet Philippines of Harvard University.

“Among the 4,368 Filipino households surveyed across the country, 74% were unable to invest in disaster preparedness, mostly due to lack of funds (47.5%) and lack of time (20%). In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) alone, 92% reported insufficient funds,” the HHI said in a statement on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

The study was conducted from March 10 to April 9, 2017. HHI also said 240 household interviews were conducted in each of the 18 regions of the country, “with oversampling” in the National Capital Region (NCR).

HHI found that “nearly 47% of respondents claimed to have done nothing to prepare for a natural hazard in the last five years” despite campaigns by the government, non government organizations (NGOs), and media.

“Although most respondents claimed to have discussed emergency plans with family members when prompted (83%), most respondents do not have a ‘go-bag’ or emergency kit (82%), and first aid kit (62%).”

On the number of Filipinos insured, HHI said, “Strikingly, very few Filipinos are adequately insured to deal with disasters,” adding that “only 19% claimed to have life insurance, 56% had health or medical insurance, 3% had home insurance, and 2.5% had asset insurance.”

Filipinos living in areas more frequently hit by typhoons “perceived themselves as being more prepared” while the “lowest level of preparedness cited was in Northern Mindanao with only 31%.”

HHI said “52% of residents in Eastern Visayas felt very prepared, with 49% in Bicol, 44% in Western Visayas, and only 32% in the NCR.”

“Similarly, advance discussions on disaster at the household level were high in Bicol, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas,” it added.

HHI also said 42% of Filipinos had experienced “significant damage to property, assets and had been displaced from their homes due to a disaster,” and only “22% were confident they would be able to recover.”

Harvard noted that 52% of the assistance that Filipinos received in the aftermath of a disaster was provided by local government units (LGUs), but only 9% of the population reported receiving housing and relocation support.

“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 (20%) and Western Visayas (17%),” HHI said.

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

“The first nationwide survey of its kind in the Philippines, the data offer a rich look into material levels of preparedness, Filipinos’ views on climate change and its anticipated impacts and offers unique reflections on Filipinos’ expectations of who is responsible for disaster response,” he added.

He said further that “as an archipelago located in the Pacific Rim of Fire, the Philippines is exposed to an array of natural hazards.”

“How Filipinos understand their own exposure to these hazards and the steps they take to cope with them is crucial to formulating relevant national policy and planning.”









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