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Risk, resilience and responsibilisation: gendered participation and empowerment in informal settlements of Metro Cebu, the Philippines

Ramalho, Jordana (2019) Risk, resilience and responsibilisation: gendered participation and empowerment in informal settlements of Metro Cebu, the Philippines. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004212

Abstract

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-affected countries in the world and considered especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. As the economic, social and environmental consequences of these phenomena become more pronounced across the archipelago, disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) and climate change adaptation have unsurprisingly gained more attention in national and local policies and development agendas. Within this terrain, community-based DRRM (CBDRRM) has emerged as a core orthodoxy informing intervention, particularly in the context of low-income informal settlements which are among the most exposed and least able to protect themselves and recover from such events. In Metro Cebu, calls for creating a more ‘sustainable’ and ‘resilient’ city are also placing urban poor communities in an increasingly precarious position, with those living in areas classed as ‘danger zones’ simultaneously facing intensified pressures of displacement in the name of risk management. Amidst this context of multiple and overlapping forms of risk and insecurity, community organising among informal settlers has become a critical mechanism for building local capacities and resisting different socio-political and environmental threats. Largely mobilised and driven by women, these grassroots entities, often in the shape of homeowner associations, are fundamental to collective contestations of policies and practices that adversely or unfairly affect the urban poor of Cebu, while also serving as strategic sites for advancing claims on public resources and local risk management activities. This thesis interrogates the gendered politics of risk and community organising among informal settlers in Metro Cebu. Drawing on the perspectives and experiences of women and men living in areas classed as danger zones, I argue that encounters with risk (and disaster) constitute an ‘everyday’ rather than ‘exceptional’ reality for informal settlers, and that the siloed focus on large-scale catastrophic events obscures these gendered realities and therein limits the efficacy of CBDRRM initiatives. Relatedly, I contend that the language of ‘disasters’ and ‘climate change’ being endorsed and propagated by the Philippine state depoliticises discussions of risk by concealing the socio-political and structural drivers of vulnerability and deflecting attention away from the power configurations and actors complicit in the production of risk. In fact, my analysis of how DRRM features within broader urban development processes in the metropole showcases how ‘disaster resilience’ and ‘pro-poor development’ are being mobilised to serve elite commercial interests and legitimise the removal of slums.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Jordana Ramalho
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD100 Land Use
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Chant, Sylvia and Jones, Gareth A.
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/4212

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