Need for resilience
The Philippines is the third most disaster-prone country in the world. The island nation is vulnerable to storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, flash floods and sea-level rise. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan made global headlines as the strongest typhoon to ever hit land. Haiyan caused devastation in 44 of the country's 80 provinces, affecting over 16 million people. Evidence suggests extreme events such as these will increase in frequency and severity as the climate changes.
Whilst natural disasters receive attention from decision makers and the international community, incremental, slow-onset changes to the climate do not attract the same interest. However, their impact can be devastating, especially for poor, small-scale farmers. In Mindanao, more than a third of the population live in poverty and over a third of the labour force works in agriculture, fisheries or forestry. Anecdotal evidence from Oxfam's programme reveals that farmers are no longer able to predict the best times to grow and harvest crops or to locate fish shoals, meaning people lose
what is often their only source of food and income. Mindanao supplies about 40% of the Philippines' domestic food needs and 30% of the country's food exports. Increasing farmers' resilience to climate change would therefore have far-reaching affects across the country, enabling people to feed themselves and their families.
Women are particularly vulnerable to both natural disasters and incremental changes to the climate. When natural disasters hit, women are less able to flee as they are often responsible for young children, and usually take care of family members who become ill or injured as a result of disasters. Women are routinely excluded from decisions regarding the planting, harvesting and selling of crops, despite being largely responsible for meals: when crops fail, it is women who face the challenge of 'making do' and feeding their families by any means available. And when water sources
dry up or roads are destroyed by floods, women have to walk further to collect water, exposing them to additional dangers on the way. Moreover, women have fewer opportunities to earn an income than men, meaning they are less able to adapt to climatic changes, and their exclusion from household, community and national-level decision making means that proposed solutions to climate change often do not take their needs into consideration.