Can the vulnerable be resilient? Co-existence of vulnerability and disaster resilience: Informal settlements in the Philippines
This paper explores the relationship between vulnerability and resilience in the context of informal settlements, using a case study of two barangays in a rural province in the Philippines. Central to the discussion in this paper is whether and how vulnerability and resilience can exist simultaneously. The authors first identify community vulnerability, which is explored through geographical, economic, and physical vulnerability. Another element involves landrelated vulnerability characterised by unsustainable land use, poor urban planning, nonexistence of building codes and weak land administration. Approximately sixty per cent of all properties in the case study areas are held in informal land tenures. Many of these informal settlers have established houses on land with a high hazard risk – for example, adjacent to rivers, on disused railway reserves and along road corridors. The result is they face the threat of eviction, and may have difficulty returning to their land after disasters. Qualitative analysis of households in the case study areas revealed that the strength of social relationships helps to reduce the vulnerability of the communities. A paradoxical relationship between vulnerability and resilience is evident. Strong community perceptions of their level of resilience to the impacts of disasters are supported by the social domains of the community. They have inbuilt resilience resulting from the perception of disasters as part of life, strong social bonds and government awareness of the validity of the informal settlements.