DisasterNet Philippines: Scoping study report

Vincenzo Bollettino, Philip Dy, Tilly Alcayna and Patrick Vinck


The Philippines is a country disproportionately affected by natural disasters. This scoping study assesses some of the key gaps in disaster preparedness and current limits of disaster resilience strategies. It argues that while the country possesses a robust disaster management system, underlying disparities in wealth, large numbers of informal settlements, and the limited professionalisation of disaster managers in under-resourced regions mean that significant gaps remain. The study recommends the need for expanded research into understanding the current level of preparedness of local governments to cope with severe weather related events.

The study maps on a range of institutions working on disaster response and preparedness,  and draws on interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders from these institutions including: disaster management professionals, community leaders, local government leaders, and academic and research institutions.

It finds:

  • Gaps in capacity building. A number of organisations noted they were addressing lack of technical skills through professionalising DRR and management, but best practice examples from within the country suggests that leadership that prioritises DRR helps foster a culture of preparedness.
  • Challenges in bringing scientific information to local communities. National government efforts in mapping hazards and vulnerabilities need to be shared with communities and synchronised with other efforts from civil society and local government.
  • A dearth of data. While there are some existing databases and data collection initiatives (e.g. national census) which could be tapped for useful information, there has been little analysis of that data. Further, household-level data is limited.
  • Limits to community-based efforts. Scale is a central challenge to enforcing the mandate that each municipality has a permanent Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer (LDRRMO).
  • Limited collaboration.  Efforts to convene and coordinate DDR and management are evident. There is a knowledge respository and collaborative civil society advocacy campaigns, but there is very little cross-sectoral collaboration between civil society, the private sector and the government and little shared understanding of what the Philippines as a country understand resilience to mean.

The study also notes particular concerns around: little policy aimed at protecting private sector; the high numbers of the extreme poor living in informal settlements who are, as a result, more vulnerable; lack of clarity around the extent to which environmental change as a result of degradation is affecting preparedness.

Based on the information gathered, three points of action are identified:

  • Review of current modules and curriculum development on DRR to inform development of new materials and partnerships between training providers and universities.
  • Develop best practice case studies to share across the country and to supplement capacity building materials.
  • Pilot household-level data collection and analysis on community-preparedness to inform decisions in policy and practice.


Bollettino, V., Dy, p., Alcayna, T., & Vinck, P. (2016). DisasterNet Philippines: Scoping Study Report. Cambridge: Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.