Mapping Philippine Vulnerability to Environmental Disasters

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By its location in the tropics, the Philippines is found to be naturally vulnerable to environmental disasters. This situation plus other human and developmental factors compound communities' incapacity to cope with such disasters.

The vulnerability of communities to hazards refers to their susceptibility to and capacity to cope with environmental stresses. Recent and major events as well as their cumulative impacts highlight the importance of identifying the vulnerability levels of certain areas and segments of the Philippine population to collective hazards that form disasters.

There are complex factors at play, which are climate/weather-related, geophysical, ecological and anthropogenic. Identifying vulnerability and risk according to the above categories will assist in completing scenarios, whether historical and/ or projected, and will enable communities to cope with and adapt to environmental disasters.

The aim of this project, Mapping Philippine Vulnerability to Environmental Disasters, is to identify areas in the country that are at high vulnerability and risk to environmental disasters. Hazards and disasters are mapped and analyzed via geographic information systems (GIS), environmental modeling tools and resulting spatial databases.

The Atlas or collection of associated maps will be used to inform and develop policy recommendations. These maps and analytical results are for dissemination to the public and concerned agencies who are responsible for disaster management and environmental stewardship in the country.

The maps, when properly disseminated, also form decision tools towards better disaster management and adaptation in the country. It is recommended that composite vulnerability and risk indices using the GIS approach be further developed, that is, by and across categories of factors. This is aimed at improving national and local assessment. Results may then guide and strengthen capacity building in disaster preparedness and management.

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