Earthquake impact mitigation in poor urban areas: The case of Metropolitan Manila

Kanako Iuchi, Ann Margaret Esnard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show that the Philippines is often described as the melting pot of natural disasters (typhoons, floods and torrential rains). As part of the Pacific ring of fire, the Philippines is also prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In the current disaster management scheme, the poor are likely to be put last. Conventional risk reduction mitigation methods (such as land use and building codes) are failing. A paradigm shift is needed – one that enables poor communities to maximize their limited resources and contribute to risk reduction. Design/methodology/approach – Interviews and field investigations were conducted between 2001 and 2006 in three case study neighborhoods in Metro Manila to understand the risk components that exist and the resources (or lack of) for dealing with them. Findings – Field surveys highlighted three major risk components: liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), illegal electrical connections, and residential buildings. Mitigation efforts need to be implemented by: developing hybrid community organizations; minimizing direct physical damage; developing neighborhood cooperatives through microfinance schemes; and developing an in-kind community insurance system. Originality/value – While this research focused on earthquake impact mitigation, the inquiry and findings with respect to the urban poor in high risk areas, have applicability to other localities in the developing world. Furthermore, Manila's situation is not unique. Disaster threats, rapid substandard urban development, growth in the number of the poor, and degradation of social capital, are phenomena present in other parts of the developing world. In such settings, traditional mitigation approaches are difficult to carry out effectively as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-469
Number of pages16
JournalDisaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Aug 29
Externally publishedYes


  • Case studies
  • Earthquakes
  • Philippines
  • Poverty
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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