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Philippines resilience programme

Philippines resilience programme (Credit: Keith Bacongco/Oxfam)

At a glance

Supporting women to lead their communities in adapting to climate change, adopting resilient farming practices and advocating for greater support. 

Overview

The Philippines Resilience Programme seeks to make poor communities more resilient to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. The programme builds on Oxfam's experience in the Philippines to enable people, especially women, to understand and adapt to the changing climate and associated risks. The programme is comprised of two projects: Empowering Poor Women and Men in Building Resilient and Adaptive Communities in Mindanao (EMBRACE), and Women Increased Resilience and Empowered against Disasters (WIRED). Both projects increase people's capacities to adapt to climate change, while also encouraging government agencies to become more supportive and accountable on adaptation.

Our approach

The programme is comprised of two projects:

Empowering Poor Women and Men in Building Resilient and Adaptive Communities in Mindanao (EMBRACE): EMBRACE aims to support poor farmers in Mindanao to improve their crop yields; to plant and harvest at the right time and earn more for their produce; and to develop climate change resistant livelihoods and farming strategies. The project has shown that with the right knowledge and foresight, poor people can avoid the worst effects of climate change, for example by using locally available resources as farm inputs. The project has also helped local governments to use their limited means to anticipate weather-related shocks, for example by setting up automated weather stations and developing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction plans.

Women Increased Resilience and Empowered against Disasters (WIRED): The WIRED project in Eastern Samar engages women in disaster risk reduction initiatives, with an emphasis on women's leadership pre- and post-disaster. This project will empower women and girls by: building their confidence to lead and participate in governance for disaster resilience; enabling them to develop resilient agricultural livelihoods; improving their capacity to address reproductive and sexual health problems, especially during emergencies; reducing barriers (particularly care work) to women's and girls' leadership and participation; and improving practices towards resilient livelihoods and more equal economic relations.

Working through partnerships

Oxfam is working with NGO partners in close coordination with Local Government Units, ensuring the active participation of partner Local Government Units in capacity-building activities, particularly in participatory risk assessments and in developing their climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction plans. This increases the confidence of Local Government Units to access the People's Survival Fund to support implementation of their women-led adaptation actions that will build community resilience.

Oxfam works with a national NGO partner, Institute of Climate Studies for Small Cities, which represents the NGO sector on the People's Survival Board. The Board is composed of representatives from key national government agencies and the Climate Change Commission. Oxfam and partners continue to coordinate with provincial governments as well as the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Office of Civil Defence, as lead agencies in disaster risk reduction. Oxfam and our partners are also setting up national forums (for presidential candidates) and local forums, where leaders of today and tomorrow can discuss and share their ideas and commitments on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Oxfam ensures that these discussions pay special attention to the needs and roles of women.

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.

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