Report: PHL ‘most affected’ by storms in just a decade

NEARLY half of the Philippine population was displaced by various disasters that occured in just one decade, according to a study released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

In the report “Disaster Displacement in Asia and the Pacific: A Business Case for Investment in Prevention and Solutions,” ADB and IDMC said between 2010 and 2021, a total of 49.3 percent of Filipinos were displaced by disasters in the country.

The Philippines accounted for 21.9 percent of the displacements, more than the contribution of the whole of Central and West Asia as well as the Pacific combined.

“The Philippines has been the country most affected, as it experiences between 5 and 10 destructive tropical cyclones every year, making it one of the countries most at risk of extreme weather events in the Asia and Pacific region and globally,” the
report stated.

During the period, the biggest disaster was typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which triggered the displacement of 4.1 million people. This accounted for over a fifth of the 19.7 million disaster displacements in the Asia Pacific region for that year.

Haiyan, in total, caused the displacement of 5.1 million people not only in the Philippines but also in Palau, China, and Vietnam. It was deemed as the largest displacement event caused by a storm.

“Its [Haiyan] scale and impacts paved the way for stronger disaster risk reduction mechanisms, including the improvement of early warning systems and evacuation protocols,” the report stated.

Typhoon Rai, Taal eruption

Apart from Haiyan, the Philippines saw the third largest displacement caused by a storm in Typhoon Rai which happened in 2021. It displaced a total of 3.9 million people from Palau, the Philippines and Vietnam.

With 41 million Filipinos displaced by storms alone, the Philippines becomes the top country with the most internal displacement caused by this disaster.

The report also said the eruption of Mount Taal in 2020 displaced the most people because of a volcanic eruption. The disaster displaced a total of 506,000 Filipinos.

The Philippines was also the country that recorded the second most number of internally displaced people due to volcanic eruptions at 672,000 between 2010 and 2021.

According to the report, almost 31 percent of the total disaster displacement recorded in the Asia and Pacific region during 2020−2021 has been reported in Southeast Asia.

“Disaster displacement is already eroding the development gains in Asia and the Pacific and threatens the long-term prosperity of the region,” said ADB’s Chief of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Thematic Group Noelle O’Brien. “We need to strengthen policies and action on disaster risk management to ensure the region doesn’t regress on its development goals.”

“Disasters are costing Asia and the Pacific hundreds of billions of dollars,” said IDMC Director Alexandra Bilak. “However, the ultimate cost still lies in the millions of lives that are affected by unmitigated disaster displacement every year.”

The 225 million displacements in Asia and the Pacific include 5 million displacements by Cyclone Amphan across South Asia in 2020, 2.6 million displacements by the Gorka earthquake in Nepal in 2015, and 15.5 million displacements by floods in the People’s Republic of China in 2010.

ADB, however, said that the report does not include the estimated hundreds of thousands of people displaced in Pakistan due to the ongoing severe flooding that began in June.

The report discusses the role of climate change in disaster displacement, noting that the effects of climate change are becoming visible, and are projected to increase displacement as the frequency and intensity of hazards changes and impacts on food insecurity and water scarcity.

It also looks at the social and economic impacts and what steps are being taken to better prevent and prepare for disaster displacement.

It analyzes the impacts of floods, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity on each subregion in Asia and the Pacific, and how disaster displacement disproportionately affects vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the elderly.

The report discusses the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as a gauge on measures undertaken to address both natural and manmade hazards and highlights the need for political, technical, and financial support in a regional concerted effort to reduce the impact of disasters on lives, livelihoods, and economies.

Image credits: AP/David Guttenfelder