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Philippines

Climate change has forced Mr Bernardo Pelayo to relook his rice-growing practices, which include introducing varieties that are resilient in both heavy rain and drought.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

Besides reintroducing native rice varieties, Philippine growers are eyeing other crops like cassava.

Mr Bernardo Pelayo carefully scoops up a handful of rice from a sack in a corner of his home, which doubles as a village sundry shop.

The stubby grains ofCamuros, a native variety of rice well adapted to the mountainous Maragondon municipality, some two hours' drive from Manila, are not for sale.

Difficult farming conditions mean that the wiry-framed widower has little surplus to sell, so he keeps it to feed his four children and himself. The 49-year-old is among the falling numbers of people in Layong Mabilog village who grow their own rice.

"When I first came here 30 years ago, there used to be rice fields everywhere. Everyone was secure. There was plenty of rice and different kinds of rice," he tells The Sunday Times in his patio, which gave respite from the searing mid-morning sun.

But climate change, labor shortage and a host of other hurdles forced many of his neighbors to give up planting paid.

Read more: Farmers see indigenous crops in a new light

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  • A study in 2007 of 141 countries over the period 1981 to 2002 shows that in societies where the socioeconomic status of women is low, natural disasters kill more women than men, both directly and indirectly via related post-disaster events.
  • A Berkley study in the Philippines found that while officials report roughly 740 deaths on average every year due to typhoon exposure in the Philippines, post-typhoon mortality among baby girls is approximately 15 times higher than that.

Disasters are regularly in the news — from hurricanes to earthquakes to, droughts to chemical explosions — and they are as diverse as their impacts, which can disrupt the economy, the environment, infrastructure, people and livelihoods. No person, country or sector is immune, but the type and degree of impacts are variable. Women and girls are among the most negatively impacted by disasters: not due to any inherent vulnerability but as a result of social construction of gender norms and the related power imbalance in which women often have limited access to and control over resources.

In most societies, women are responsible for the majority of unpaid domestic and care work. And in many cases, women work a triple shift: productive work in the formal or informal sector; reproductive work associated to the household (cooking, cleaning, providing water and fuel, caring for children, the elderly and the sick); and community management roles (volunteer work in community management). This workload can impede enough time for sleep, and can impact a woman’s health and resilience to shocks and stressors. But add to that other inequalities that women face in terms of access to their human rights in the form of decent paid work, land tenure, health care including sexual and reproductive health, education, water and sanitation, freedom from sexual and other violence, a healthy environment, etc., and the shock of a disaster can be a major setback.

A body of research shows the impacts of disaster are differentiated, with particular issues for women that include increased domestic violence and sexual assault in emergency shelters. But gender-disaggregated data is still not collected regularly enough to give a full picture of the impacts of disasters on women and girls, not to mention on LGBTIAQ+, indigenous, disabled or older persons, or migrants/refugees.

The hard economic data that is collected in the short-term to measure progress on the expansive commitments of the Sendai and SDG frameworks does not capture many of the risks and impacts that are complex and secondary to the disaster in question, such as job and livelihood loss, displacement, migration, health, infant mortality and food security, and which highly impact women as a result of systemic discrimination. Women’s rights and feminist advocates, activists, and researchers have advocated for decades for better data as well as resources to meet gender commitments.

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Read more: Climate-Induced Disasters Affect Women & Girls First

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The joint assessment teams of Oxfam and its partner, Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC), witnessed the destructive force of Ompong, known internationally as Super Typhoon Mangkhut.

The teams have been deployed to Cagayan since Wednesday to provide on-site situational updates and conduct rapid needs assessments. The community-led disaster preparedness committees of CDRC in Cagayan have been activated.

Read more: Oxfam and local partners witness Mangkhut’s “destructive force” – disaster preparedness...

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