Two years after typhoon Odette, also known by its international name Rai, battered coastal communities in northern Bohol in the central Philippines, many of those who survived the cyclone are back in the danger zones seemingly awaiting another disaster to happen.
From a side-street in Tubigon town, one of the worst affected by Odette, one can see a billboard warning ‘Storm Surge Prone Area’. But right behind it are makeshift houses leading to what must have been a thriving fishing village now left in shambles by the impact of the strongest typhoon that struck the country in 2021.
“They are back because they have nowhere to go. They have been waiting (for rehabilitation and housing assistance), but these did not come. Up to now, they are still waiting,” said Danilo Cañada, 51, former head of Tinangnan village in Tubigon.
Froilan A. Cosgafa, Jr., Tubigon’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Officer, confirmed that the promised shelter assistance has yet to arrive, despite submission of a report through the national social welfare and development office. Priority for assistance, he said, were those in the town’s Ubay Island that was inundated when typhoon Odette struck.
These stories are not unique. Coastal communities around the world are facing the consequences of government inaction as increased storm surges, severe disasters and other climate impacts continue to destroy their lives and livelihoods.
There are many different paths forward, from migration and resettlement to natural storm buffers and financial assistance to rebuild. But the spending for disaster risk management can be unpredictable and inconsistent.
While changes to the Philippines’ Disaster Risk Management (DRM) regulations have helped mainstream adaptation into local development plans, questions still remain about how the funds are used, delayed, misused or unutilized – and if they’re really reaching the people who need them.
This story was produced with the support of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network. It was first published in VERA Files on December 28, 2023 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Banner image: After a fishing community's homes were destroyed, they set up makeshift shelters on the land / Credit: Procopio Resabal, Jr.