The true cost of natural calamitiesThe impacts of natural disasters are devastating to any economy. Multiple hazards brought by natural events affect public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water and power utilities, hospitals and schools, government buildings, and agriculture. In 2021 alone, Super Typhoon Kiko and Odette caused massive disruptions in multiple cities and provinces, leaving over 1,500 people injured and resulting in about 500 deaths. The most catastrophic typhoon in recent history was Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan in 2013, causing over 95 billion Philippine pesos in damages. In addition, about seven thousand people were reported dead, and nearly 30 thousand went missing.
In that same year, over three million people have also been affected by a magnitude seven earthquake on the island of Bohol - just a month before the super typhoon. Another high-intensity earthquake struck the island of Luzon in 2019, with a 6.1 magnitude, leaving several people dead or injured. The Philippines is home to nine active volcanoes, nearly half of which are located on the island of Luzon.
How is the Philippines gearing up for such calamities?The spending for reducing risk has been one factor helping the Philippines rebound from the aftermath of natural calamities. Given this scenario, assessing the government's efforts in addressing climate change in the Philippines has shown that although the government is aware of the threat, sufficient funds have not been allocated to address climate change, according to a recent survey.
In the Philippines, local government units are agencies responsible for rehabilitating society and rebuilding infrastructures in the aftermath of natural disasters. In 2021, government expenditures on climate change reached 181.9 billion Philippine pesos, slightly lower than the previous year’s budget. Meanwhile, expenditure on environmental protection, though significantly improved from just five billion Philippine pesos in 2014, has slightly declined in the past two years. The Philippine government must continue implementing more stringent physical risk-reduction measures and adopt enhanced-engineering technologies to minimize the risk and losses. It is thus imperative to allocate a higher budget for disaster preparedness, incentivize the private sector to make climate-friendly business decisions, and encourage its people to be more aware of the threat of climate change. With climate change posing more threats, more disasters will likely happen in the coming years.