Filipinos fear getting harmed, ill due to climate change

News and Press Release
Originally published

Massachusetts, USA—Despite having a low level of public awareness on climate change, most Filipinos were concerned of the effects of climate change on their health, among other potential impacts. This was according to a research published by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) on 20 October 2020.

HHI’s study showed that nationwide, 71% of Filipinos believed that they would be at least “somewhat affected” by climate change. Among them, 46% reported that they would likely get harmed, injured, or ill due to climate change.

“Our data demonstrate that those Filipinos that are concerned about the impacts of climate change take actions to prepare for future disasters. These findings support efforts taken to raise awareness of climate change and its anticipated impacts on the Philippines,” said HHI Resilient Communities Program Director Vincenzo Bollettino.

Among the 17 regions of the Philippines, those living in the National Capital Region (70%) were the people most concerned with contracting an illness or getting harmed as an effect of climate change.

Aside from health issues, other potential impacts reported by the respondents were loss of income (22%); damage to crops (20%); damage to house and property (19%); and infeasibility of farming and change of livelihoods (18%).

Those living in Davao (57%) were particularly concerned about the impact of climate change on their household income. Those living in Eastern Visayas, meanwhile, were most concerned with the impact on farming (40%) and on their houses (41%).

HHI’s research was based on a data collected from a nationally representative random survey of 5,184 adults, conducted between March and April of 2017. This research by Harvard University’s humanitarian research center was published through the world’s leading publisher Elsevier.

“Though collected three years ago, these data continue to be relevant today as the impacts of climate change have only worsened,” Bollettino explained.

**Climate change awareness **

Overall, HHI’s study has found a low level of public awareness about climate change among Filipinos. At the national average, most respondents had not heard of and did not feel well-informed about climate change (60%), and only 12% of respondents had heard a lot or felt “extremely well-informed” about it (12%). Bicol stood out as the region with the highest percentage of people who never heard of climate change (38%).

Awareness of climate change varied regionally, ranging from 3% in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Regional in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), to 24% in Caraga reporting high or very high knowledge. Similarly, low or very low knowledge were reported from 45% in Caraga, to 72% in Bicol. Inhabitants of Zamboanga and BARMM reported the lowest levels of knowledge with 70% and 71%, respectively, reporting low or very low levels of knowledge about climate change.

Perceptions on climate change

Across the country, roughly half (47%) of respondents believed that climate change was due to both natural and human factors. Roughly a third (32%) believed climate change to be solely due to human activity, and a fifth (20%) believed climate change was purely due to natural processes.

Most or 42% agreed that the disasters they had experienced were due to climate change. However, many also disagreed. 47% of those living in Zamboanga Peninsula, for instance, strongly disagreed that climate change was linked to disasters.

Respondents believed that the top consequences of climate change were: increased temperature (46%); shifting of seasons (42%); and heavier rains (23%). They also reported that the following changes in the environment over the past 30 years might worsen the effects of disasters: deforestation (21%); increased poverty (13%); poor waste disposal (12%); increased population (11%); and worse infrastructure (5%).

Deforestation was ranked extremely highly in certain regions, including Davao (45%); Zamboanga Peninsula (42%); Western Visayas (40%); MIMAROPA (32%); and Caraga (36%). 18% of those living in Zamboanga Peninsula also highlighted mangrove degradation as a factor contributing to the intensified impact of disasters.

Climate change and disasters

Overall, this research by HHI examined and explored various dimensions and factors contributing to the association between climate change perception and disaster preparedness, including socio-demographics, impact of disasters, knowledge of climate change, and risk perception.

The study found that Filipinos who perceive climate-related changes as directly impacting their households reported taking greater action to prepare for disasters. Filipinos who believe they have been directly impacted by climate-related changes are also more likely to prepare for disasters, take planning actions, and undertake material actions to prepare, such as improvements in the household.

HHI said that the findings of their study imply that adaptation to climate change and disaster preparedness are inherently associated and potentially mutually reinforcing. Policies and programs would arguably benefit from a more unified intervention framework that links climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness.

You may access the full HHI journal article here:

This October, HHI is also set to launch the results of another study—a network analysis of disaster risk reduction (DRR) actors working in the Philippines. The study aims to contribute to the understanding of the relationships among actors supporting disaster preparedness and resilience in the country.

HHI has been conducting research and training programs on disaster and climate resilience, and humanitarian leadership in the Philippines since 2015.

For inquiries and requests, please contact:

MARK TOLDO | Communications Specialist

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

14 Story Street, 2nd Floor | Cambridge, MA 02138



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