Addressing Slow Onset Disasters: Lessons from the 2015–2016 El Niño in the Philippines
The Philippines is one of the Pacific countries affected by El Niño. The phenomena occur for so many years and leads to extreme weather disturbances, prolonged droughts, and changes in sea surface temperatures, among others. The El Niño in 2015/2016 was among the strongest ever recorded and came at a time when the country was in the middle of an election period. This chapter discusses the problems caused by this occurrence, particularly its impact on farmers and fisher folk, the limitations of current systems for disaster risk reduction that are geared more towards regular, non-prolonged environmental events (rapid onset), as contrasted from prolonged exposure (slow onset) to fluctuations in weather and climate. The chapter discusses the importance of learning from past El Niños and the need to develop new protocols for such an event (different from preparations for one-off disasters like typhoons and earthquakes). Among others, election policies that affect immediate relief from emerging humanitarian crises such as these need to be revised.
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