Program on Resilient Communities

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.

More reciprocal, cohesive local collaborations needed for disaster risk reduction in the Philippines

Massachusetts, USA — For the Philippine disaster risk reduction (DRR) system to further strengthen and be sustainable, local humanitarian actors need to conduct more cohesive and reciprocal collaborations with each other, researchers from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) have recommended based on their recent study.

“Local organizations are best placed to prepare for and respond disasters. Our research suggests that international aid agencies continue to play a large role in the network of Philippines disaster agencies, pointing to the need to build greater ties...

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Why heeding the voice of at-risk populations is crucial to resilience

By Mark Toldo, Communications Specialist at HHI’s Program on Resilient Communities

Since the establishment of the United Nations (UN) International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in 1999, awareness of and response to disasters has grown globally. Governments, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, civil society groups, and even the private sector now often converge to conduct collaborative projects aimed at mitigating the impacts of disasters and climate change to vulnerable...

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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.

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.

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