Massachusetts, USA — A survey by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) has found that before the onset of the Coronavirus disease or Covid-19, disaster risk reduction (DRR) actors in the Philippines had very limited connections and collaborations on pandemics.
The survey was part of HHI’s recently published study that analyzed the network of DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA) actors in the Philippines from 2017–2019.
Although the survey did not specifically focus on pandemics, it asked DRR actors which types of disasters they address, with pandemics being one of the options. HHI and international nonprofit organization Root Change then analyzed the data to see possible networking patterns observed for actors working on pandemics before Covid-19 hit.
The Harvard University’s humanitarian research center said that the findings of their study could contribute to the understanding of the country’s levels of preparedness and response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Little collaboration, connection
HHI’s study found that out of 501 total respondent-organizations with DRR or CCA-related projects in the Philippines, only a total of 7% or 35 actors reported that they focus on pandemics. Of these organizations, 15 were “isolates” or those with no connections to others working on DRR and CCA.
Of the 20 actors that had connections with other actors within the network, only one actor — a government agency — reported collaborating with another organization who was also focused on pandemics. The agency collaborated with a local government unit (LGU) on the areas of public health expertise, logistics, policy, and volunteering.
This certain actor was going to the other pandemic-focused organization for information sharing and communication due to a funding requirement. This means that there was no formal/informal partnership and that the collaboration was not necessarily by choice.
While the two organizations have been collaborating for 5–10 years and collaborate often (more than five times in six months), they rated their relationship only as “somewhat likely” to be recommended to other actors working on humanitarian response and preparedness.
The 20 actors in the network who had a focus on pandemics reported a total of 625 relationships with actors not working on pandemics. The most common collaboration areas were advocacy and community capacity building, which were the same two common collaboration areas found for the full DRR network in the Philippines. HHI said that further research is needed to determine whether these relationships were for preparedness and resiliency for pandemics specifically, or for another disaster area.
Further research could also help understand the system working to prepare for a global pandemic, such as COVID-19 in the Philippines, HHI stated.