• Paolo Isamu Zorat
Every year that passes, it is increasingly clear that the number of natural disasters is rising worldwide. Very often, when a natural hazard strikes a vulnerable community, it transforms from a potential harmful event into a disaster that has catastrophic social and economic consequences. Disasters can be seen as one of the biggest obstacles to sustainable development and poverty eradication as they can drive people into poverty and can reverse the development gains built up over decades. Together with the devastation of lives, livelihoods and economic loss, displacement is one of the major outcomes of disasters. In the aftermath of a disaster, in most cases, part of the affected communities are forced to leave their homes and livelihoods to search for better living conditions. Among all the possible countries that could have been studied for their high propensity to suffer a disaster, the Philippines has been chosen to be the case study of this thesis. The Philippines is regarded to be one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, in fact every year the country suffers multiple sorts of disasters including storms, floods, earthquakes, drought, and volcanic eruptions that cause a large number of causalities and social setbacks. Because of the high number of hazards that hits the archipelago, very often, the inhabitants also suffers extensive displacement. This thesis sets out to investigate how displacement risk is constructed in the country and in particular this research is focused on giving an answer to “Why are the Filipinos still not able to adequately withstand natural disasters and avoid frequent displacements?”. As Socio-economic aspects and the incidence of poverty and inequalities are determinant factors that increase the chances of displacement, the reasons behind a high number of people forced to flee is to be understood in the context of political and economic systems. Therefore to give an answer to this question, the inquiry focuses on two of the possible factors that can increase the level of vulnerability of Filipinos, namely the free-market-oriented economic policies implemented following the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) and the influence of the political landscape in the process of deforestation. The focus on deforestation, and in particular on illegal logging, is very relevant because of the strong correlation between the misuse of the environment and disaster risk. By employing two theories, Neoliberalism and Elite Theory, it has been possible to analyze the consequences of the economic reforms and the power relations in the logging industry. It was found that SAPs, negatively affected the vulnerability of the poorest strata of the Philippine by reducing their resources and assets, and thus preventing them to build efficient coping capacities to withstand disasters. Moreover, the political landscape of the country has increased the vulnerability of the population by promoting deforestation and by implementing logging bans without providing alternative livelihoods. All in all, a large part of the Philippine population is unable to adequately withstand natural disasters and avoid frequent displacement because SAPs and the political landscape contributed in several ways to reduce their coping capacities and to increase their vulnerability to hazards.
Publication date30 Sept 2015
ID: 219575599