Building resilient livelihoods: The solution to break the cycle

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Resilient Livelihoods

Disasters cause substantial losses not only in lives but also in livelihoods. Chronic disasters cause the adverse impacts of these losses to accumulate by not allowing affected households to rebuild their livelihoods and recover. The accumulated negative impacts of recurring disasters on household livelihoods have long-term effects, reinforcing intergenerational transmission of poverty and pushing poor households further into greater vulnerability.

Years of work on reducing disaster risks among high-risk communities in the Philippines are bearing fruit in terms of saving lives. Equal attention must be given to saving livelihoods in order to achieve household and community resilience. This study documents the various experiences of households and communities that, sustaining serious losses particularly from the Bopha disaster in 2012 and Haiyan in 2013, have emerged successful in adopting strategies that would protect their livelihood assets and capacities from anticipated recurring disasters. From the lessons and good practices, in the context of largely rural and agricultural communities, the strategies in achieving resilience in livelihoods are identified.

To break the cycle, households and communities need to protect their livelihoods from future losses by building resilience. With households adopting resilient livelihood strategies, losses will be avoided or reduced, and there will be less of a need to resort to negative coping strategies. Households will become less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and recurring natural hazards.

Resilient livelihoods as a practice has evolved through various humanitarian actions in response to typhoons Bopha and Haiyan, with theoretical and practical contribution from other humanitarian and disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and ecosystem management and restoration (also referred to as integrated risk management) projects. Households can make their livelihoods more resilient by adopting strategies to diversify, protect, and strengthen livelihood assets and capacities.