The key themes of the project are vulnerability, risk, resilience and shocks in relation to paths in and out of poverty. Lessons learned from our research will be highly relevant to post-disaster reconstruction efforts in Low Income Countries, specifically within densely populated urban areas. These communities are amongst the most at risk and yet least able to resurrect themselves after disasters. Governance in the Philippines is devolved through a system of Local Government Units (LGUs), i.e. provinces, cities and municipalities. LGUs are further sub-divided into barangays that are the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines run by elected officials.
The organization of LGUs and barangays offers a convenient mechanism against which poverty alleviation strategies can be measured across time and space. The performance of selected LGUs and barangays can be tracked over time and against each other over space to investigate which units perform more effectively and why. Vulnerability and risk are conditions that are heightened by poverty. Vulnerability and risk inform why and how poor people are exposed to natural disasters whilst resilience informs how they coped and how coping strategies can be supported and risk lessened. We will contribute to capacity building in relation to these themes at both the local level and LICs that face similar conditions. We will measure resilience over time and to test the extent to which the notion of 'Building Back Better' is credible.
Our research will focus on the following research question in relation to the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda: 'What factors shape pathways into and out of poverty and people's experience of these, and how can policy create sustained routes out of extreme poverty in ways that can be replicated and scaled up?' The project will focus on sub-questions relating to the impact of vulnerability, risk and resilience on poverty dynamics and the effect of shocks on institutions and policies as they relate to poor people. We will assess the political economy of domestic public spending and international and transnational relief funding as it relates to post-disaster reconstruction and sustainable poverty alleviation.
We will also assess how far and in what ways support agencies and the Philippine government have supported families and communities in building their own recovery. This relates to effective governance and physical and social resilience. Overall we aim to test the extent to which shocks have a positive or negative effect on sustainable protection against risk (physical and socio-economic), the extent to which shocks alter pathways in and out of poverty and how far resilience extends beyond mere survival in relation to poverty.
Over time we will compare poverty alleviation strategies in the immediate (reactive), medium (pro-active) and longer (sustainable) term. Our research methods will use gender, age, disability, educational and employment status and housing status as independent variables in relation to sustainable solutions to poverty. Poverty is the dependent variable in our project.
We will generate our own dataset through interviews and surveys of local residents and officials across our chosen administrative units. However we aim to go beyond metrics that account for exposure to risk and the immediate impact of the disaster as these offer only a limited measure of resilience. Rather we aim to measure vulnerability, risk and resilience in relation to agency and as a measure of the conditions in which meaningful agency can be built over time.
Who will benefit: The beneficiaries of this project include those working on post-disaster urban poverty relief in the Philippines and across LIC. These include UNICEF, the UNDP and the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, governmental departments responsible for post-disaster rehabilitation i.e. the Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; international NGOs i.e. Oxfam and the Red Cross and local CBOs such as the Leyte Centre for Development. Users include national policy makers sitting on governmental committees responsible for these issues; i.e. Disaster Risk Reduction and Womens' Rights, Urban Planning and Resettlement and Women and Family Rights; those tasked with Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) i.e. Secretary Panfilo M. Lacson (Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery) and those concerned over the disbursement of aid i.e. Sen. Miriam Santiago. Users would also include their counterparts in LIC. Private companies have also mobilised to increase disaster response capacity through i.e. the Philippine Corporate Network for Disaster in order to protect both their business interests and employees.The Yolanda Multi-Donor relief Fund is also managed by the private sector. The LGU mayors and barangay captains beyond the barangays targeted in this research will also benefit from the experience of their peers. National, transnational and international bodies involved in urban goverance and rehabilitation in LIC will also benefit from the design and findings of our research. Such groups include Observatoire Haiti, USAID, Overseas Development Institute, US Agency for International Development, the International Organisation for Migration, Dfid, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. How will they benefit:This project will generate empirical evidence of the success or otherwise of medium term post-disaster relief efforts. It will isolate the difference between short-term quick fixes and sustainble rehabilitation. It will also identify overlapping efforts and gaps in strategy. It will identify the actual choices made, by the impoverished and under what conditions. This will allow us to identify the factors that shape pathways in and out of poverty and offer evidence based strategies that can be replicated and scaled up by policy makers. It will also identify the social and physical conditions necessary for good governance and urban management and services and how these can be sustained from the bottom up. The societal impact of our project will be that disaster relief funding and interventions will be targeted and allocated in a fashion that supports sustainable communities and lessens risk and vulnerability to future disasters. We will identify how resource allocation can go beyond disaster 'relief' and build sustainable livelihoods beyond the immediate aftermath of the disaster. We will assess the extent to which disaster relief funding is related to need and what factors dictate the efficient allocation of funds over the immediate and medium term. We will assess whether communities have actually been built back better and if not then why not. One of the fundamental aims of our project is to enhance quality of life and design strategies that impact positively upon well-being. Users will also benefit from the cross referencing of their activities and experience. Capacity will be strengthened by mapping the allocation of aid to services such as health, education and employment and housing to establish whether the resulting services are effective, sustainable and good value for money. The lessons learned will be of key importance for the effective and accountable allocation of aid and delivery of public services. The benefits of the research will start to be realised after the first tranch of fieldwork when preliminary findings will be published.