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(P22) The complexities of relief aid management among disaster-affected hunter-gatherers 

Convenors: Mayo Buenafe-Ze, University of San Francisco and Leiden University; Gener Cabaldo, National Commission of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines; Tessa Minter, Leiden University

Discussants: Mayo Buenafe-Ze, University of San Francisco and Leiden University; Gener Cabaldo, National Commission of Indigenous Peoples, Philippines; Marian Sanchez, Luke Foundation, Inc. (Baguio City, Philippines)

Abstract: Hunter-gatherers are among the most vulnerable groups affected by natural disasters and climate change, yet relief aid is often inconsistent or culturally inappropriate. Discussants compare and contrast knowledge and experiences of hunter-gatherers and other disaster-affected indigenous communities regarding relief management in this session.

Keywords: natural disasters, relief aid, indigenous communities, modifications, resilience

Format: panel and roundtable

Precirculated papers: none required

Seasonal forces of nature which take the form of typhoons, hurricanes, flash floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc. have been a reality faced by hunter-gatherers and other indigenous communities for centuries. But their knowledge and experiences on how to prepare for and re-build after the destruction has rarely been documented or included in the climate change discourse. Many relief aid organisations target helping these communities, but the products and services given are often inconsistent or culturally inappropriate to their needs.

Relief aid comes in various packages: food and water supplies, clothing, cash assistance, and sometimes shelter rehabilitation and livelihood assistance. Accessing these goods and services, how to use them, or if there is a choice to self-determine how to utilise aid, varies among different hunter-gatherer communities. Furthermore, historical interdependencies with other social groups who live around hunter-gatherer settlements, access and proximity to areas where aid is distributed, and perceived versus actual benefits these services offer are some examples of factors influencing how hunter-gatherers use this aid. By discussing the complexities surrounding how various hunter-gatherer communities cope with natural disasters and use relief aid, we also describe the factors which lead to modifications in their mobility, housing, livelihood, etc. after these natural disasters occur.

What is "culturally appropriate" relief aid for hunter-gatherers? What are ineffective or unsuccessful practices of relief aid management and what are the causes? Why do some hunter-gatherer groups choose to avail of assistance programmes, and why do others choose not to? What factors influence hunter-gatherer decisions of using relief aid? This panel explores the complexities of these questions and invites researchers, relief aid agency workers, and indigenous participants to provide a cross-cultural discussion to compare how hunter-gatherers and other indigenous peoples cope and adjust to the changes brought by these natural disasters, their stories of resilience, and the positive and negative impacts of relief aid.

 

Papers

 

Water as a threat: Rebuilding after Super Typhoon Megi

Mayo Buenafe-Ze, University of San Francisco and Leiden University, Philippines. mayo.buenafe.ze[a]gmail.com
Wilma Telan, Isabela State University - Cabagan, Philippines. telanwilma08[a]gmail.com

Short abstract: This session describes how the Agta of Maconacon and Divilacan in Isabela Province survived Super Typhoon Megi on October 18, 2010.  We note Agta narratives and knowledge on how they prepare for annual typhoons, re-trace their experiences surviving Super Typhoon Megi, and describe significant impacts of shelter rehabilitation kits they received as relief aid.

Long abstract: It is obvious that water is integral for all who live on this planet, but water can also be a powerful destructive force. Hunter-gatherers like the Agta from Northeastern Luzon, Philippines centralize their lifestyle and subsistence around water ecosystems (i.e. rivers and coasts). But with super typhoons affecting the Philippines annually, the Agta are also particularly vulnerable to extreme environmental changes. This session describes how the Agta of Maconacon and Divilacan in Isabela Province survived Super Typhoon Megi (locally known as Typhoon Juan) on October 18, 2010. We note Agta narratives and knowledge on how they prepare for annual typhoons by re-tracing their experiences surviving Super Typhoon Megi, and describe significant impacts this event has had on various members’ mobility, housing, and livelihood. We especially note the shelter rehabilitation kits many Agta received as relief aid and why some chose not to use it. We illustrate Agta adaptation strategies and experiences to provide evidence on how hunter-gatherers continuously mitigate and innovate their strategies to address the varying effects of climatic disasters.

When Aid is delayed: Cross- cultural "self- recovery" practices of fisher folks in the riverscapes of Dagupan City and Dumagat hunter-gatherers in Alabat Island, Philippines

Fatima Gay Molina, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines. fatimagaymolina[a]gmail.com

Short abstract: The research chronicles cross-cultural self-recovery activities among fisher folks’ and hunter- gatherers’ in a post-disaster context in the Philippines. These include taskscapes and endogenous and fluvial practices in addressing hydro-meteorological and anthropogenic hazards.

Long abstract: The paper will detail cross-cultural self-recovery activities between fisher folks’ in the riverscapes of Dagupan City and Dumagat hunter-gatherers in Alabat Island in the Philippines whom I have worked with as a development practitioner at the Center for Disaster Preparedness for the past 10 years. These include endogenous practices, also perceived as taskscapes and fluvial practices in addressing hydro-meteorological hazards such as tropical storms and typhoons that annually ravage the country; and, anthropogenic hazards such as ecological challenges associated with the practice of inland aquaculture, the main source of subsistence and livelihood of fisher folks. Self- recovery was first used after cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh back in 2007 by shelter practitioners, and, became widely utilized following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 (Maynard et al. 2016). This research proposes that self- recovery is also linked with indigenous ways of adaptation, engagement in livelihood, and, also anchored in the Filipino values such as “bayanihan” and “pakikisama.” It also argues that to better comprehend post- disaster recovery, it is imperative to look into the internal actions led and driven by the people indigenous to the disaster- affected areas.

Rising from the Rubble: A Qualitative Inquiry on Sto. Niño, Ambassador, Tublay’s  Disaster Experience and Recovery Process

Marian Sanchez, Luke Foundation, Inc., Philippines. mc07sanchez[a]gmail.com

Short abstract: In a growingly vulnerable world, how should we, recovery managers and community development practitioners, rethink of sustainability? How do we empower disaster-stricken IP communities towards building back better and safer?

Long abstract: As an attempt to break away from the paradigm of the extreme, this qualitative study focuses on a Kankanaey community’s disaster experience and recovery process. The paper highlights the role of historic plunder of indigenous territories and the maldevelopment of local ecosystems in the creation of catastrophes. Through local narratives and field observations, the study then traces the transformation of an IP neighborhood into an emergent community of victim-survivors. This academic endeavor also maps out local revitalization factors, warns against the scars of good intentions, and elucidates rebuilding as a social phenomenon. An alternative framework on recovery as an opportunity for genuine community development is at the end proposed.

Disaster in Aid and Relief in Indigenous Communities in Mindanao

Paulo Tiangco, Socius Innovation, Philippines. paulojtiangco[a]gmail.com

Short abstract: The government’s one-size-fits-all project management approach in disaster aid and relief has done more damage and harm than good to the indigenous communities by forcing them to relocate and abandon their ancestral domains, adapt to government policies trapping them into the complexities of the bureaucracy making them even more vulnerable to exploitation.

Long abstract: The paper examines, the nature, the relevance of disaster relief and aid given by the government and foreign agencies to the indigenous communities in Mindanao in times of natural and man made disasters. The government’s one-size-fits-all project management approach in disaster aid and relief has done more damage and harm than good to the indigenous communities by forcing them to relocate and abandon their ancestral domains, adapt to government policies trapping them into the complexities of the bureaucracy making them even more vulnerable to exploitation. One of the biggest government social programs is the conditional cash transfer called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that provides monetary assistance to the poorest families as long as they fulfill conditions. This program during times of natural disasters show that it is not cultural sensitive and it enforces the pattern of systemic discrimination by forcing indigenous communities to conform to the mandated conditions. The result is that in times of disasters those who cannot conform to government mandates are excluded from accessing help and assistance. The Department’s poor management in disaster does not offer long-term sustainable development to help the IPs.

 

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