Post-Disaster Coping Mechanisms and the Role of Women and Children - CARD-MRI, Philippines

Post-Disaster Coping Mechanisms and the Role of Women and Children: Practices and Interventions

Mimosa Cortez- Ocampo, PhD

Professor and CARD-MRI Professorial Chair Holder (2008-2009)

Institute of Development Management and Governance

College of Public Affairs

UP Los Banos



This paper was prepared to determine the impact of and the post-disaster response/coping mechanisms of   women and children to, natural disaster.  Organizational interventions and the role of microfinance were also addressed.  The research-based paper made use of secondary data available from the different offices concerned as well as primary data obtained thru focus group discussions (FGDs) among 76 women respondents in eight covered barangays at four municipalities/cities heavily affected by Typhoon Reming: Legazpi, Daraga, Camalig and Guinobatan in Albay province. These were areas hit by typhoon or wind, excessive rainwaters or flooding and mudslides from Mayon Volcano.

Typhoon Reming, which hit Albay in late 2006 was the natural disaster covered. The typhoon claimed 618 casualties, totally damaged 112,107 houses, substantially damaged 100,069 houses and brought about the evacuation of 3,000 families.  Damage to agriculture was P576.58 million, to public infrastructures P1.83 billion.

There was no shortage of   local and international agencies, organizations and groups including the provincial and local LGUs providing relief assistance. Assistance consisted of food rations and relief goods, building materials, temporary shelter/evacuation centers, medical services, and resettlement areas/houses.  

Due to the magnitude of the damage and the numbers and diversity of organizations and groups providing relief, there were problems in coordination of relief efforts. To mitigate the problem, Ayuda Albay was formed as coordinating body. The body consisted of members from almost all the groups- GOs, NGOs, POs, private sector, etc. - engaged in disaster management. Ayuda Albay adopted a Cluster Approach which proved to be an effective, efficient and more systematic provision of relief and rehabilitation services. This approach which organized the different organizations into clusters representing particular areas of concern could be a model for disaster management.

The women’s life routine was totally upset with houses damaged, household appliances and utensils lost, livelihoods and businesses gone, privacy and incomes lost. Aside from increased workload, there was general inconvenience with cut power and piped-in water supplies, un-passable roads and limited transport. There was also recreation loss and the transistor radios that were battery-run served well under said conditions.  Children’s school schedules were upset and they were scarred by the experience. Trauma was experienced by women and children.

The value of family and kin in times of calamity was validated by the response to the disaster.  This was true with respect to funds for repair, reconstruction of houses, funds for resumption of livelihood, temporary shelter, and related assistance.

Two years after Typhoon Reming, livelihood involvements appeared to have normalized. What made this immediately possible after the disaster was the financing scheme again by family and kin, but some were also under rather usurious conditions or the 5/6 or “Bombay” scheme. Microfinance has a role in disaster management. Savings that women had with Center for Agriculture and Rural Development – Mutually Reinforcing Institutions ( CARD-MRI),  particularly CARD, Inc. and CARD MBA, were well recognized to have been of much help.

 CARD-MRI undertook limited relief operations by providing relief goods to its members in affected barangays.  It also suspended the collection of affected members’ weekly loan payments for two months and allowed members to withdraw from their Capital Build Up (CBU) funds or the amounts retained from their loans. While CARD involved itself in disaster relief efforts, it did not extend emergency or calamity loans, consistent with microfinance principles that it is a credit, not a relief or charity organization.   Moreover, CARD incorporated “disaster preparedness/management” lessons during the conduct of their weekly center meetings.

Typhoon Reming impacted on loan repayments. Three months after Typhoon Reming, only 100 Centers (35%) out of the 283 centers in the areas covered by the study reported 100% loan repayments. However, viewed in terms of members’ actual repayment, 4,374 (71%) of the 6,131 members had 100% or full repayment.  The individual repayment rate of 71 %- a short period after major disaster appears rather high but is way below the norm of more than 95 % repayment during normal times. There were 329 members, representing 5% of members who made no payments at all, three months after Typhoon Reming. The destruction of livelihood/houses and absence of income sources indeed made loan repayments difficult.

Despite all these, in the FGD sessions, the over-all atmosphere was already almost lighthearted. Things appeared to have normalized. Three distinctly Filipino values underlie the coping mechanisms: familism, sense of joy and humor and religiousness.

Since women are actively involved in disaster relief, reconstruction, recovery and related work, they should just as actively be involved in disaster preparedness programs like training courses, seminars, planning etc.

Finally, discussions with different stakeholders indicate a much increased awareness about disaster and its consequences. Hence, a greater readiness to prepare for and respond to such eventuality in the future can be expected.

Added by MCOcampo March 4, 2010 (2:14PM)

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