Climate-induced statelessness through diasporas or migration: the case of the Haiyan disaster

A topic of interest within the DRR, CCA, and Urban Planning and Management communities is climate-induced statelessness (through forced abandonment or migration) arising from loss of territorial boundaries due to sea level rise and forced exodus or abandonment or diasporas. The Haiyan disaster appears to be the first practical evidence of the theoretical argument happening in physical space.

The community has been eyeing Maldives as among the critical areas but as it turned out the event is presently happening on home territory! What the exodus of people in the Haiyan disaster means, therefore, for DRR planning in the Philippines is for its island and coastal communities to factor in migration and diasporas in scenario building.  In a worst-case scenario, as what we’re all witnessing in the Haiyan disaster, “escape” routes from affected communities should be mapped out similar to the requirement for buildings to have fire escape routes installed and occupants to know where these are. This implies regional and inter-regional planning as opposed to the current and traditional practice in LGUs of kanya-kanya.

To conclude that, in the absence of a well-thought of DRR plan, the impacts of typhoons as ferocious as Haiyan are beyond our control and nothing can be done about them is sheer irresponsibility.  The behavior can be compared to the airline that does away with life vests, oxygen masks, and lighted paths in its planes because of its motto that anyway every passenger and crew will die in a crash all time.  Or, the car makers who do away with seat belts and air bags in their cars because of its motto that anyway every driver and passenger will die in a crash all the time.  This logic is false and preposterous because evidence has it that these equipments, when correctly used, increase people’s chances of surviving accidents.

If as a result of the preventive measures in place 2,000 less deaths are avoided we know that we did our job the best we can.


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