Vulnerability Assessment: Seven Reasons To Do It

Why should you do vulnerability assessment?

In this changing climate, vulnerability assessment is becoming part of the planning process of the government. This is to know how to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

What you are about to read is based in one of my research project in Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines.

Before anything else, here’s a fact.

Do you know that Philippines is top three disaster risk country?

World Risk Report 2015
Philippines at number 3 in World Risk Report 2017

Visit this World Risk Report 2015 to know more about it.

Hence, it is fitting to do a in our country.

In my previous post, I have shown how to measure vulnerability to climate change.

This is based on the socioeconomic indicators that can be gathered from socioeconomic government data. In the Philippines, Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS)is the best source for this.

In fact, a pilot study was conducted by  Herminia using CBMS data as input in vulnerability index computation.

Read more of his study Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping here. 

 Why do we need to assess?

The question is why do we need to assess a specific area according to its vulnerability to climate variability?

As we all know, human beings depend so much on its surroundings or environment, however, human beings have been successful destroying the earth not so much on preserving it.

The earthquakes, typhoons and many other natural disasters are also a response to human activities. What we give to the environment will be returned to us hundred folds.

While this may sound prophetic, but I heard this personally from a friend who happened to be a professor in one of the universities in Tacloban City.

She said one day to her students,

Class don’t throw your garbage anywhere or in the sea, because someday this will come back to you.

Indeed, she was right.

What happened during Typhoon Haiyan was not just an environmental thing, it has its causes. Whatever it is, God knows more than science does.

With all the disasters we encounter, if we do not know how to adapt to these changes in climate, we will suffer. However, unless we know that we are also vulnerable or not, we cannot be prepared to face our future.

In this sense, vulnerability assessment is important for the following reasons.

My top 7 reasons to conduct vulnerability assessment

Read more on CARE Handbook to know more about it.

1. To inform us how ready are we when disaster comes

Photo: Stuart Miles/FreedigitalPhotos
Photo: Stuart Miles/FreedigitalPhotos

I remember a verse in the Bible:

My people will die for  lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6

Sad but true. Despite we have high technology today. Many don’t have the access to information especially on local settings.

The challenge here is that: People should have first hand information on their social condition. Well, of course they know their capacities, capabilities, but talking about disaster preparedness, I am unsure to this.

Not all people are ready when disaster comes.

That’s the hard truth.

2. To prepare ourselves in these last day events

Photo: Coward Lion/freedigitalphoto
Photo: Coward Lion/freedigitalphoto

If we have all this information at hand, we can then be prepared for whatever may happen. We cannot blame another the national government nor anyone else.

We are to be held accountable for our lives as well as others.

3. Vulnerability assessments serve as early warning system

Photo:freedigitalphoto
Photo:freedigitalphoto

Access to early warning systems is very important. Studies by CARE shows that both in Peru and Vietnam, lacks early warning systems and was recognized as a key contributor to vulnerability to extreme events.

4. A voice to vulnerable people

Photo:StockImages

Vulnerable communities are at risk when disaster strikes. However, there are many responses that the government are doing to secure the lives of people.

But often times, these strategies are way too far implementable and applicable in the locale. Vulnerability assessments thus provides people the voice especially in decision-making process where most of the times made from a top-bottom approach.

By doing participatory decision-making through vulnerability assessments, it also ensures that adaptation initiatives are responsive to their needs, priorities and aspirations. (CARE)

5. To have effective and sustainable coping capacities

Photo:Stuart Miles

Again, most of the adaptation strategies doesn’t reflect the realities especially to ordinary people. Consider this sad example. Prior to Typhoon Yolanda, there were already warnings from the national government made through PAGASA. However, these warnings seemed too technical to ordinary people and they don’t understand the meaning of it.

STORM SURGE was the word of the day.

But people in Tacloban City don’t bother to listen to it.

Yes, PAGASA did what was right but in the end they failed. If only the media and the PAGASA said it in layman’s term, many lives will be spared.

(I am not reviving the issues back in those times, this is just an example that those top-bottom approach do not fit anymore today).

If TSUNAMI were announced, for sure many people would flee from their places.

Targeting local initiatives from the voice of the local people is important in adaptation to .

Local people know what’s best and what works for them.

6. Secure our resources

Photo: rattigon/freedigitalphoto
Photo: rattigon/freedigitalphoto

Many people depend on environmental resources for their livelihood, now because of changing climate those whose livelihood depend on these are affected.

As a result, people will resort to other means that is unsustainable which in turn damage our ecosystem.

I got here another case from CARE.

In Peru, people are clearing more forest to access land for agriculture. Not only is this damaging to the ecosystem, it is increasing risks of erosion and landslides, increasing people’s exposure to these hazards. Insecurity of land tenure or lack of land ownership is also a limiting factor for adaptation, as people may not see the value of investing in strategies that sustain ecosystems and can improve productivity and resilience over time.

7. To promote gender equality

Photo: Stuart Miles
Photo: Stuart Miles

Women and children are the most vulnerable to climate change. I don’t mean here that men is exempted to climate change. But often times, programs, policies, and projects are androcentric and some don’t require women to participate.

CARE shows that equitable adaptation requires an understanding of the dynamics of vulnerability. As their case studies demonstrate, gender influences these dynamics, and therefore vulnerability assessment must take gender differences into account.

These are my 7 reason why we should conduct vulnerability assessment to places which are prone to disaster.

Do you have suggestions to consider adding it here?

Feel free to comment.

Thank you.

Climate change adaptation strategies in the Philippines

Looking for  Strategies?

 

Before I share with you some of the best practices in adaptation in the Philippines. Let me share with you some information.

Do you know that there are eight sectors identified as basis for adaptation framework?

These are based on the “Institutional Collaboration for the Formulation of the Philippine Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation” (ACCB Adaptation to Climate Change Conservation of the Biodiversity in the Philippines).

You can download a copy of the report you can download here.

 

Agriculture

Climate change and agriculture are very much related. The fact that we live in this world where most of our resources are agriculture based, thus our climate is also affected by the agricultural activities that we do.

Biodiversity

Mainstreaming the biodiversity adaptation strategies to climate change in policies, plans and programs of national and local government agencies are also sought in the formulation of the adaptation policies.

In fact, an example of biodiversity conservation is the project commissioned by German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The adaptation to climate change and conservation of biodiversity lasted for four years from 2008 to 2011. One of the approaches was to monitor protected areas and support mangrove rehabilitation initiatives.

You can read the full abstract of the report of Adaptation to climate change and conservation of biodiversity in Philippines here.

Coastal and Marine

On the other hand, since the Philippines is an archipelagic country, adaptation is also focused on “interventions that lessen negative physical effects, such as direct effects of storm surges on coastal land areas and salt water intrusion into land.”

Energy

Its necessary for the government to secure energy which is dependent on renewable energy. Hence, a cross-sectoral framework for climate-friendly energy use is also needed.

Tip: Use less energy.

If you don’t have the money to convert your house to solar power, you can make a big difference with small changes.

  • Buy energy efficient appliances. They may be more expensive, but make up for the increased cost in lower energy bills.
  • Unplug chargers when you’re not using them. Cell phone and other chargers use up powers even if there’s nothing attached to them.
  • Put devices with remotes, like T.V.s, VCRs, and stereos, on a power strip and turn it off when you’re not using them. These devices use a lot of power to run the remote receiver even when the device is off.
  • Walk or ride your bike for short trips.
  • Buy local products. It takes energy to transport food and other products across the country. Buying local not only supports your local economy, it helps them use less energy.

Forestry

Over time, there is an increasing awareness of environmental degradation and also a growing concern of environmental protection.

Our research tells that this observation is true.

The suggested activities for forest protection are the following:

Agroforestry lands for tree and crop farming; multipurpose forests for ecotourism; sustainable harvesting of wood and non-wood forest products; as well as partaking of revenues generated from Payment for Environmental Services (PES) schemes, carbon trading (CDM, REDD, and voluntary schemes), and Official Development Assistance (ODA) and grants from international and bilateral organizations

Health

Climate change adaptation strategies in the Philippines is integrated. It not only covers the environment but the welfare of the people in general including health.

It is noted that “through adaptation mechanisms, reduce the health vulnerabilities to climate change of a Philippine population that is already faced with the challenges of the currently wanting primary health care delivery.

Infrastructure

In this sector, one of the most important aspects that has to be dealt with are the following:

Vulnerability check of existing infrastructure for retro-fitting; review of existing codes, specifications and standards; and formulation of new design guidelines to take into account anticipated climate change impacts.

Being able to know all these things, adaptation plans will then be made to help secure infrastructure assets based on specific climate change projections in the regions.

Water

Water is very important in human life.

Without it, there is no life.water is life

An easy way to adapt to climate change in this sector is by doing the following:

  • Shut off the water while you brush your teeth
  • Take showers that are a minute or two shorter
  • Only flush the toilet when you need to
  • Only run full loads of laundry and dishes
  • Buy from sustainable producers. These are farmers, ranchers, and other producers that use techniques that pollute less and use less water. You can do some research online or ask at your local organic market to find these products.

The above sectors are useful in coming up with a strategic plan in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

In relation to this, the following are the best practices on climate change adaptation strategies in Philippines that I found.

Climate Change Adaptation Best Strategies

1. Socio-political advocacy for green economy
– sought to encourage the adoption of national policy for climate change adaptation and the green economy by establishing Albay as a global, national and regional LGU model and champion
2. Mainstreaming DRR/CCA into local development planning processes for integrated physical framework
3. Mainstreaming climate change in the philippine educational curriculum in Albay
4. Risk reduction practices

Another climate change adaptation strategy is

5. Capacity Development for Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction for SUCs and Stakeholders (December 2-5, 2014).climate change conference

The seminar is focused on mainstreaming climate change in Region 8, not about any nonsense climate change conspiracy.

Highlights of the workshop were on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and some challenges in the Region.

There were many topics that were tackled during climate change 2014 conference. Amongst others are impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Most topics were geared towards climate change mitigation and adaptation especially for farmers. A very important strategy today is Climate SMART Agriculture which is very doable and can be used in the locality.

It was also worth noting that the keynote speaker Dr. Dindo Campilan emphasizes resiliency as a concept of surviving should be a perspective of becoming “better off than before shocks occurred.”

If you are skeptical about adaptation strategies, you can read and review studies in climate mitigation and adaptation.

In Babuyan, Palawan. an economic analysis of climate change adaptation might be helpful for policy makers and implementers like you.

Some of the ways they did to adapt to climate were the following:

Breakwater construction
Dike/levee construction
Mangrove reforestation
Riverbank rehabilitation using vetiver grass
Riverbank rehabilitation using vetiver grass combined with mechanical method
Dike construction
River dredging
Upland reforestation
IEC/Establish early warning system and provision of temporary evacuation center
Relocate affected households to safer place

References:

Economic Analysis of Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Selected Coastal Areas in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam
An Institutional Collaboration for the Formulation of the Philippine Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation” ( ACCB Adaptation to Climate Change Conservation of the Biodiversity in the Philippines).