Publications

    Vincenzo Bollettino and Lea Ivy Manzanero. 3/2022. “Climate Change and Civil-Military Coordination in the Philippines: How climate change disasters will impact aid delivery in areas affected by conflict.” Climate, Disaster and Development Journal. Read PublicationAbstract

    The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and frequently ranks among the top three countries most impacted by disasters. Ongoing conflict with non-state armed actors results in scenarios where civilians are impacted by both conflict and natural hazards. The result is a situation where civilian relief agencies operate in proximity to the military. We argue that there is an important need for principled civil-military coordination in these contexts to ensure the integrity of security operations to support peace and stability while preserving the independence of humanitarian actors serving crisis-affected populations.


    The research reveals significant challenges in protecting the integrity of independence of both military and humanitarian actors in areas impacted by both conflict and disaster and underscores the need for principled humanitarian civil-military coordination to avert threats to both humanitarian aid workers and disaster affected populations. The findings are particularly relevant to South East Asia where the use of military in disaster response is common. The findings also underscore the need for research on the role of militaries in responding to disasters in light of anticipated impacts of climate change. 

    HHI Resilient Communities. 3/2022. Symposium Report: The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Vulnerable Communities in the Philippines.Abstract

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the loss of millions of lives, disrupted the global economy, and created secondary impacts on livelihoods, education, and mental health across the globe. No country or economic group has been immune to the direct impacts of the pandemic, but marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable to the secondary impacts including some public health measures like extended lockdowns. Marginalized populations are those excluded from mainstream social, economic, educational, political, and/or cultural life. They can be excluded or discriminated due to multiple factors such as their race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language, and/or displacement, among others. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative's (HHI) Resilient Communities Program sought to understand how vulnerable or marginalized communities in the Philippines experienced COVID-19, and how communities coped and adapted in response to direct and indirect effects of COVID-19, including public health measures. To do this, HHI invited Filipino authors exploring this central question to submit papers for consideration to be selected to present and share in a symposium. In addition to its research objectives, the symposium sought to connect researchers and practitioners to create a network of professionals dedicated to serving the needs of marginalized communities in the country.

    Watch the full symposium: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zC1FzWRUuo

    Markus Enenkel and Andrew Kruczkiewicz. 2/2022. “The humanitarian sector needs clear job profiles for climate science translators – more than ever during a pandemic.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Read PublicationAbstract
    A new generation of “climate science translators” (CSTs) is currently evolving, both as independent professionals and affiliated with humanitarian agencies. While people in this role represent an opportunity to foster communication and collaboration between climate science, humanitarian decision-support, policy and decision making, there are neither clear job profiles, nor established criteria for success. Based on an analysis of job opportunities published on one of the largest humanitarian and development aid job portals we show that the demand for CSTs has been increasing since 2011. Subsequently, we present a characterization of core skills for the next generation of CSTs aiming to establish a space for not only current CSTs to thrive, but also a path for future translators to follow, with milestones and opportunities for recognition.
    Phuong Pham, Vincenzo Bollettino, Patrick Vinck, Ariana Marnicio, Lea Ivy Manzanero, Mark Toldo, Rachel Dickinson, Alexis Smart, and Evan Bloom. 10/2020. “Network Analysis of Actors Working to Support Disaster Preparedness and Resilience in the Philippines”.Abstract
    The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) partnered with Root Change to conduct a network analysis of actors working to support disaster preparedness and resilience in the Philippines. The study design is modeled after a summative phase external evaluation that HHI conducted in 2016-2017 on the START Network’s Disasters and Emergency Preparedness Program (DEPP). Network analysis techniques applied in this evaluation have been adapted from the DEPP work to analyze the disaster resilience network in coastal Bangladesh under the Resilient Communities Program. In this report, we present the network analysis and methods used. We also detail findings and recommendations for HHI and other in-country partners about how these results can inform programs to strengthen disaster resilience and climate change in the Philippines.
    Sarah Ferguson, Vincenzo Bollettino, Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Rachel Dickinson, Alexis Smart, and Evan Bloom. 5/2020. “Bangladesh Network Analysis Report”.Abstract
    Coordination among actors during an emergency is crucial for effective, efficient action. The existence of pre-disaster relationships between actors can strengthen the speed with which coordination occurs in a disaster setting, making relationshipbuilding before a disaster an important element of preparedness. As such, understanding the relationships between stakeholders working to advance disaster resilience and response is a crucial first step to support institutional strengthening and capacity building. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), Concern Worldwide, and Jagrata Juba Shangha (JJS) are jointly implementing programs to enhance climate change adaptation and disaster resilience among coastal communities in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh. This district is located in Bangladesh’s low-elevation coastal zones, which are especially vulnerable to natural disasters and have already begun to see the effects of climate change. Bagerhat has high levels of food and water insecurity and poverty, and is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change impacts (5). The district has been heavily impacted by recent cyclones, and is experiencing sea level rise and saltwater intrusion. This network analysis was undertaken to support strengthening coordination and collaboration among actors working on climate change adaptation and disaster resilience in Bagerhat.
    Vincenzo Bollettino and Sarah Ferguson. 5/2020. “Case Study: Academic/NGO Collaboration to Understand Climate Change and Disaster Resilience Implementation in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh”.Abstract
    This case study describes a research collaboration between an academic institution and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) designed to inform programs to strengthen coordination in Bangladesh. The case describes the rationale for conducting the study, the research process, and outcomes of the research. The objective of the case study is to support local or municipal governments, NGOs, students, or other program managers to consider how collaboration with academic institutions could enhance their programs, as well as how research such as a network analysis could be useful to inform their work. For those interested in conducting a network analysis, the case also provides resources and tools to support researchers and organizations to replicate the study in their program context.
    Tilly Alcayna, Vincenzo Bollettino, Lea Manzanero, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2019. Perceptions of Vulnerability, Preparedness, Assistance, and Barriers: Regional Infographics, the Philippines.Abstract

    This report provides a regional breakdown of household perceptions and self-reported activities on several key questions related to disaster preparedness and recovery in the Philippines. These are: who and what is vulnerable? What preparedness activities have households undertaken? What assistance have households received and what helped them recover the most? What are the barriers?

    The report is intended to be used in conjunction with the full report “Perceptions of Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines” (2018), which explores perceptions on a wider variety of disaster related issues in greater detail. Data for both reports were derived from a nationwide, household-level survey of randomly selected adults aged 18 years old and above, representing all of Philippines economic strata, conducted in 2017.

    Program Resilient on Communities. 9/2018. Cordillera Administrative Region: Household Preparedness.Abstract
    Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) has had a major impact on the north of the Philippines displacing more than 50,000 people in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and resulting in over PhP 14 billion in agriculatural damages (equivalent to approx. USD 270 million). The Philippines government and many national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be involved in the response. To help tailor the response it is useful to know what the level of preparedness for disaster was in Cordillera Administrative Region before the storm hit. The following statistics, compiled by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, were gathered between March and April of 2017.
    Program Resilient on Communities. 9/2018. Cagayan Valley Region: Household Preparedness.Abstract
    Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) has had a major impact on the north of the Philippines damaging in excess of 76,000 homes in Cagayan Province (Region II Cagayan Valley) and completing destroying more than 10,000 homes there. The Philippines government and many national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be involved in the response. To help tailor the response it is useful to know what the level of preparedness for disaster was in Cagayan Valley Province before the storm hit.
    The following statistics, compiled by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, were gathered between March and April of 2017.
    Vincenzo Bollettino, Tilly Alcayna, Krish Enriquez, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2018. Perceptions of Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines.Abstract

    The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. Located along the boundary of major tectonic plates and at the center of a typhoon belt, its islands are regularly impacted by floods, typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, and droughts. The Philippines also ranks among the top three countries in the world for population exposure and vulnerability to hazards. The Philippine government has developed strong coping mechanisms over their long history of experience with disasters. Yet, significant gaps remain in disaster management capacities across different regions of the Philippines and surprisingly little data are available referencing local levels of disaster resilience and preparedness.

    This research aims to address the gap in knowledge on both local disaster resilience and preparedness by providing a comprehensive overview of household measures of resilience and levels of disaster preparedness. This is the first nationwide household survey on measures of disaster resilience and disaster preparedness carried out in the Philippines. It comes at a time of critical importance as efforts are being made to ensure disaster management is based on evidence, especially at the local level and amid national discussions on centralizing disaster resilience efforts under a single national agency.

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    Vincenzo Bollettino, Patrick Vinck, Tilly Alcayna, and Philip Dy. 9/2017. “Introduction to Socio-Ecological Resilience.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science. Read PublicationAbstract

    In recent years, the notion of resilience has grown into an important concept for both scholars and practitioners working on disasters. This evolution reflects a growing interest from diverse disciplines in a holistic understanding of complex systems, including how societies interact with their environment. This new lens offers an opportunity to focus on communities’ ability to prepare for and adapt to the challenges posed by natural hazards, and the mechanism they have developed to cope and adapt to threats. This is important because repeated stresses and shocks still cause serious damages to communities across the world, despite efforts to better prepare for disasters.

    Scholars from a variety of disciplines have developed resilience frameworks both to guide macro-level policy decisions about where to invest in preparedness and to measure which systems perform best in limiting losses from disasters and ensuring rapid recovery. Yet there are competing conceptions of what resilience encompasses and how best to measure it. While there is a significant amount of scholarship produced on resilience, the lack of a shared understanding of its conceptual boundaries and means of measurement make it difficult to demonstrate the results or impact of resilience programs.

    If resilience is to emerge as a concept capable of aiding decision-makers in identifying socio-geographical areas of vulnerability and improving preparedness, then scholars and practitioners need to adopt a common lexicon on the different elements of the concept and harmonize understandings of the relationships amongst them and means of measuring them. This article reviews the origins and evolution of resilience as an interdisciplinary, conceptual umbrella term for efforts by different disciplines to tackle complex problems arising from more frequent natural disasters. It concludes that resilience is a useful concept for bridging different academic disciplines focused on this complex problem set, while acknowledging that specific measures of resilience will differ as different units and levels of analysis are employed to measure disparate research questions.

    Tilly Alcayna, Vincenzo Bollettino, Philip Dy, and Patrick Vinck. 9/2016. “Resilience and Disaster Trends in the Philippines: Opportunities for National and Local Capacity Building.” PLOS Currents Disasters. Read PublicationAbstract

    The Philippines is one of the top countries in the world at risk of climate-related disasters. For populations subsisting at the poverty line in particular, but also the nation as a whole, daily lives and wellbeing are routinely challenged. The Philippines government takes disaster risk seriously and has devoted significant resources to build disaster capacity and reduce population exposure and vulnerability, nationally and locally. This paper explores the policy and institutional mechanisms for disaster risk reduction management and research which have been conducted in the Philippines related to disaster preparedness, management and resilience.  

    Tori Stephens. 3/2016. The Typhoon Haiyan Response: Strengthening Coordination among Philippine Government, Civil Society, and International Actors. Read PublicationAbstract

    Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines in November 2013, claiming more than 6,300 lives, displacing more than 4 million people, and disrupting the economy and livelihoods in some of the country’s poorest regions for years to come.

    The Haiyan response has been held up as a largely effective humanitarian operation, and the transition from response to recovery phases was swift. However, evaluations have also found that the international operation failed to adequately join with national systems and overlooked civil society coordination opportunities.

    With these coordination gaps and potential opportunities in mind, this discussion paper examines factors that affected the Philippine government’s ability to coordinate the Haiyan response and the international community’s ability to participate. 

    Vincenzo Bollettino, Tilly Alcayna, Patrick Vinck, and Philip Dy. 1/2016. DisasterNet Philippines: Scoping Study Report.Abstract

    This scoping study maps government, community-based organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations, private sector initiatives, and research and academic institutions working on disaster preparedness and response in the Philippines.

    The study provides the basis for undertaking a series of research studies to designed to identify the leading contributing factors that determine effective disaster preparedness measures and the antecedents of high measures of community-based disaster resilience.

    Tilly Alcayna. 1/2016. “Slum socio-ecology: an exploratory characterisation of vulnerability to climate-change related disasters in the urban context”.Abstract

    As cities, especially coastal megacities, continue to grow often through rapid unplanned urbanization, populations are increasingly concentrated in climate change-affected hazard-prone spaces. How these populations interact with their environments will ultimately influence their vulnerability to climate-related disaster. Yet the interdependence between human and environmental systems, especially in the urban slum context, is under-researched and represents an important gap in our understanding. Using a socio-ecological system approach provides a holistic framework to understand vulnerability.