The Intangibles that Matter: Non-Economic Loss and Damage

By Justin Charles G. See, PARR Fellow

“The floods swept away everything we had – even our dreams and our future.”

This was the testimony of Maricel, a resident of Barangay Tumana, Marikina City, at the end of our key informant interview. I was accompanied by my field interviewers in a visit to the communities living under the Tumana bridge, a flood-prone area just beside the Marikina River in the Philippines.

Our team went to Bgy. Tumana, Marikina City (a flood-prone community beside the Marikina River)

Our team wanted to know more about the experiences of loss and damage from the community members themselves. The questions we prepared were supposedly simple and straightforward – we wanted to know how many pesos they lose / spend every time their particular area gets flooded after a typhoon. But the responses they gave were much more complex. They incurred losses and damages that they cannot easily quantify in pesos. In climate change literature, these are called non-economic losses and damages, or NELD.

What were these losses that were difficult to quantify?

The residents we talked to reported about the significant impact of floods on their health. Most of them, especially the children, complained of respiratory illnesses and diarrhoea after every typhoon. Some of the adults got diagnosed with leptospirosis – a disease caused by bacteria usually carried by rats. These illnesses hampered the ability of the respondents to be productive in work or in school. Worse, a number were forced to stay home in order to recover.

A number of residents also talked about the impact of floods on their environment. They were energized when they recalled how they were able to swim or bathe in the river before. Some recounted how they bonded with their neighbours while washing clothes together. I was amazed at how their eyes lit up with the stories on how their grandparents were able to catch fish. “We used to harvest kangkong (water spinach) and labanos (radish) right here near the river. Then we would go and have picnic with family”, said Rolando. However, he claimed that his family couldn’t do any of these things anymore. The floods have made the river impossible to swim / bathe in / have picnic with family.

Key informant interviews with community members: we asked them about loss and damages after typhoon

The floods also have a substantial effect on their connections with other people. Sociologists call these links and shared understandings/ values as Social Capital. When asked about whom they go to for help in times of disasters, majority of the people we interviewed reported to have no one to go to. This was based on their experiences right after Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). Very few people helped them out, and majority of those who helped were family or relatives. This resulted to a lack of trust towards other people.

The most heart-breaking story I heard that day was that of Maricel. Tears streamed down her face as she recounted how her mother died during Typhoon Ondoy, “As the water was quickly coming in, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to save my mother AND my five children. But things turned out differently…” Today, seven years after the typhoon, Maricel still finds it difficult to move on from the death of her mother. “My mother and I wanted to start a small restaurant just nearby. She was a good cook; I miss her adobo… Now that she’s gone, no one will cook my favourite adobo anymore. Our dream of starting our own restaurant too – it’s gone.” For Maricel, the loss of her mother meant more than an economic loss; it was a loss of a particular family arrangement, a loss of a special relationship, and a loss of a bright future for her family.

Health, Environment, Connections, and Human Lives – these encompass just some of the many non-economic losses and damages – intangible aspects of people’s lives that are difficult to measure yet they do matter. It is high time that we pay attention to NELD – as these are sometimes more important to people compared to the monetary losses.

PARR Fellowships Update

PARR has now reached its halfway point for the 2016/2017 round of fellowships.

Out of the nine fellows, six have completed their fellowship residencies at the University of the Philippines, Los Baños and the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction (NCDR) in Taipei. The other three fellows are in the process of completing their residencies at Manila Observatory and NCDR.

Fellows Nurrohman Wijaya (second from left) and Amna Zaujatul (seventh from left) are in the process of completing their residencies at the Manila Observatory.

In these first six months, fellows have already managed to submit original research proposals to START for follow-on research funding, present at 3 conferences, and publish a full paper on a conference website.

To continue to build on the exciting work and enthusiasm of these fellows, START will be running a new monthly webinar series for the PARR fellows, on topics of greatest importance to them. Webinars will cover how to write and publish blogs on their research; how to prepare budgets and financial reports for proposals and projects; other types of outputs that may be produced, aside from research papers; how to engage in interdisciplinary research and with stakeholders in the research process; and how to network.

At least one fellow will also be starting her independent research project soon, where she hopes to start building a database of national losses and damages from disasters in the Philippines.

New Knowledge Briefs on Disaster Risk Reduction

okta pictureThe Pan-Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Fellowship Program is pleased to announce the release of three knowledge briefs on urban disaster risk and vulnerability under global environmental change. The knowledge briefs are outputs from competitive grants on topics ranging from the creation and testing of a decision support system in the Philippines, an analysis of the linkage between urbanization and disaster in India, and validation of a framework for school-community collaboration for coastal community resilience. Click below to download the knowledge briefs.

 


Decision and Framework for Decision Support System for Highly Urbanized Megacities: Case study Metro Manila
Principal Investigator: Gemma T. Narisma

 

Exploring the Existing School-Community Network and Enabling Environment for Enhancing Community Resilience to Disaster
Principal Investigator: Rina Suryani Oktari

 

Flood Risk Vulnerability of Peri-urban Communities: The case of Surat
Principal Investigator: Aparna

 


 

parr logoThe PARR Fellowship Program offers unique research, training and educational opportunities to Asian researcher, practitioners, and policy makers to enhance their capabilities for advancing and applying knowledge on critical issues of global change and risk in the Asia-Pacific. The PARR Program is pioneered by an international alliance of science-focused, research, education and capacity building organizations that share a common goal and complementary track records for advancing resilience and sustainability in the Asia-Pacific.

We appreciate the financial and administrative support of the Oscar M. Lopez Center (Philippines), Kyoto University (Japan), Manila Observatory (Philippines), National Science & Technonlogy Center for Disaster Reduction (Taiwan), University of Los Baños, Thammasat University (Thailand), and START (USA). Finally, we recognize the financial support of Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research, the United States Global Change Research Program, and the International Centre of Excellence for Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR-Taiwan).

sponsor logos

Knowledge Brief: Design and Framework for a Decision Support System for Highly Urbanized MegaCities – Case Study Metro Manila

PARR Knowledge Brief_gemma_Page_1The Pan-Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Fellowship Program has released three knowledge briefs on urban disaster risk and vulnerability under global environmental change. The knowledge briefs are outputs from competitive grants on topics ranging from the creation and testing of a decision support system in the Philippines, an analysis of the linkage between urbanization and disaster in India, and validation of a framework for school-community collaboration for coastal community resilience.

This knowledge brief, “Design and Framework for a Decision Support System for Highly Urbanized MegaCities: Case Study Metro Manila” was written by PARR Fellow, Gemma T. Narisma, describing her work in Manilla, Philippines. The brief explores effective science information communication towards risk reduction.  It introduces the framework of a decision support system for extreme events for Metro Manila and potentially other highly urbanized megacities.

Knowledge Brief: Exploring the Existing School-Community Network and Enabling Environment for Enhancing Community Resilience to Disaster

PARR Knowledge Brief_okta_Page_1The Pan-Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Fellowship Program has released three knowledge briefs on urban disaster risk and vulnerability under global environmental change. The knowledge briefs are outputs from competitive grants on topics ranging from the creation and testing of a decision support system in the Philippines, an analysis of the linkage between urbanization and disaster in India, and validation of a framework for school-community collaboration for coastal community resilience.

This knowledge brief, “Exploring the Existing School-Community Network and Enabling Environment for Enhancing Community Resilience to Disaster” was written by PARR Fellow, Rina Suryani Oktari, describing her work in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. The brief evaluates the school-based disaster
preparedness program.  It explores the existing network and enabling environment by identifying the network actors, strength of their relationships, and opportunities, challenges, and factors influencing strengthening of the network to enhance community disaster resilience.

Knowledge Brief: Flood Risk Vulnerability of Peri-urban Communities – The Case of Surat

PARR Knowledge Brief_aparna_Page_01The Pan-Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Fellowship Program has released three knowledge briefs on urban disaster risk and vulnerability under global environmental change. The knowledge briefs are outputs from competitive grants on topics ranging from the creation and testing of a decision support system in the Philippines, an analysis of the linkage between urbanization and disaster in India, and validation of a framework for school-community collaboration for coastal community resilience.

This knowledge brief, “Flood Risk Vulnerability of Peri-urban Communities: The Case of Surat” was written by PARR Fellow, Aparna, describing her work in Gujarat state of India. The brief examines the impact of the 2006 floods on peri-urban households by identifying the most affected communities; determining the extent of inundated areas in Surat and its surroundings; and revealing the coping mechanisms and adaptation strategies being used.

Article in All India Disaster Mitigation Institute’s Publication

136 Snet Children and Humanitarian Assistance in South AsiaSTART was pleased to contribute to the September 2015 issue (#136) of Southasiadisasters.net on ‘Children and Humanitarian Assistance in South Asia’.

You can download the full publication AIDMI’s website http://www.aidmi.org/publications.aspx.

Our article, “START: Two Decades of Impact in Asia,” can be found on page 15, as shown below.  

 

START article - page 15

 

Pan Asia Risk Reduction Fellowship Program Brochure

The Pan-Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Fellowship Program offers unique research, training and educational opportunities to Asian researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to enhance their capabilities for advancing and applying knowledge on critical issues of GEC and risk reduction in the Asia-Pacific. The PARR Fellowship Program fulfills the needs of the region for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers who are able to plan with foresight to address the increasingly complex challenges of GEC and risk reduction and management. The Program establishes a knowledge to action network of people and institutions capable of developing and implementing innovative approaches to planning and action at local, national, and regional levels. Learn more

On the Move: Hassan Virji in Temporary Residence at Kyoto University

Update blog from START Executive Director Hassan Virji

hassan-presenting-2During October and part of November, I have the honor of being a Visiting Professor in Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies. Within the graduate school, I am hosted by the Graduate School of Sustainability and Survivability Studies. Physically, I am located in the International Environment and Disaster Management (IEDM) Laboratory. This lab is START’s partner in the PARR Alliance, a network of institutions from academia, public and private sectors, that collaborates on the Pan Asia Risk Reduction (PARR) Fellowship program. The lab, under the able leadership of Professor Rajib Shaw, conducts research and engages graduate students from across Asia. The lab has developed a highly regarded framework for assessing “Disaster Resilience Index”, that has been applied at urban to regional and socio-economic sectoral scales. Prolific research and publications output from the lab has set a high bar in academia at Kyoto University.

The IEDM lab is also a host institution for the inaugural round of the PARR program. During my stay here, four PARR fellows are in residence, three of who are shown in the photo that accompanies this post – Ms. Aparna, Ms. Rina Suryani Oktari, and Ms. Thinn Hlaing Oo, seated with their Fellowship supervisor Professor Rajib Shaw and myself. The Fellows had just presented their work to IEDM staff and graduate students. Their work focuses on (1) role of school-community collaborative networks in building disaster resilience in coastal region of Myanmar and Bandar Aceh in Sumarta island of Indonesia, respectively, and (2) understanding the role of regulatory frameworks in managing flood risk and vulnerability in Surat, India.

parrfellows-ku-group

I currently share an office with these PARR Fellows, which allows me to interact with them on a daily basis. Their diligence, commitment, and scholarship are exemplary. They have actively interacted with IEDM’s academic staff and graduate students. For them, rewards of the PARR experience, so far, have been that their research work has become more focused, resulting in working papers that will later be available on the START website and may be refined and submitted for publication. During their time together at IEDM, Thinn, Okta, and Aparna have also become friends. This is indeed a basic ingredient for fostering a network of collaborating Fellows.

Besides interacting with PARR fellows and graduate students, and giving seminars, I have also been involved in developing other collaborations, for example with the Future Earth Regional Hub based in Kyoto at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, and with the Asian University Network for Environment and Disaster Management.

Being in the heart of academic setting in Kyoto is an uplifting experience. I firmly believe that START and IEDM will have a sustained and highly productive relationship for years to come.

– Hassan

PARR Fellows visiting Manila Observatory

Host Institution

Manila Observatory
PHILIPPINES
The Manila Observatory is a private, non-stock, non-profit scientific research institution established in 1885 by the Jesuit mission in the Philippines. From its first work in astronomy, today’s Observatory finds itself at the nexus of global concerns for the environment and development. With its tradition of excellence and service in scientific research, the Observatory envisions itself as a vital partner in critically global yet locally relevant concerns. Through its present research programs, the Observatory now actively confronts these new challenges through a science that must inform and guide the shaping of a safe and sustainable future for humankind.

Antonia Loyzaga
Supervisor
Ms. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga is the Executive Director of the Manila Observatory and a consultant to international organizations on disaster risk management and poverty alleviation. She currently leads the metropolitan Manila team of the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR), an international project aimed at building capacity for climate change adaptation in five major coastal megacities. She recently organized a regional disaster risk research consortium linking selected universities in the Philippines; and the Metro Weather Network, a private-public partnership to monitor urban climate and weather. She is a member of the Science and Technology Committee of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology Committee on Space Technology Applications (COSTA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs Committee on Ocean Concerns. She has an MA in Government from Georgetown University and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Ateneo de Manila University. She recently co-published an award-winning visual anthropology of informal settlements in metropolitan Manila.


Fellows visiting Manila Observatory

Resfaniarto INDRAKA
Mr. Resfaniarto Indraka finished his undergraduate study at Institute Technology of Bandung (ITB) majoring in urban and regional planning. He is pursuing a masters degree at the University of Indonesia majoring in planning and public policy. He is currently employed by the Bureau of Spatial Planning and Environment, Jakarta Capital City Government, with major responsibility to formulate policy in spatial planning, environmental, and land matter in Jakarta. Other responsibilities include controlling space utilization and urban growth. As an urban planner, he is also affiliated with Indonesia Association of Planners (IAP). IAP conducts research on spatial planning, disaster risk reduction, and climate change, especially in Jakarta. Mr. Indraka’s main interests are to promote disaster risk reduction and climate change issues into policy formulation.

Saut SAGALA
Dr. Saut Sagala is an assistant professor at School of Architecture, Planning and Policy Development, Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB), Bandung, Indonesia. Dr. Sagala has conducted intensive research and consultancy experiences on spatial planning, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation while also works as an Editorial Board Member of ASEAN Engineering Journal. He also serves as a Senior Research Fellow at Resilience Development Initiative (resilience research community) and an adviser for Bandung Disaster Study Group, empowering university students to conduct disaster education for children and youth in West Java.