Can the Bonding Social Capital be Used to Mitigate the Impact of Natural Hazards?: The Case of a Flood-Prone Suburban Community in the Philippines

Can the Bonding Social Capital be Used to Mitigate the Impact of Natural Hazards?: The Case of a Flood-Prone Suburban Community in the Philippines

Simeon Corro Bernados Jr, Lanndon A. Ocampo, Edwin A. Pilapil, Nemia F. Zamora
DOI: 10.4018/IJSESD.2020070103
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To illustrate the influence of bonding social capital in the development initiatives of local communities and to contribute to the on-going theoretical debate on the effects of bonding social capital to communities, the cultural variable was used in the analysis using post-disaster recovery experience of a community. By using interview transcripts and conversation notes for this work, people's cultural and circumstances determined the social formation processes as responses to their circumstantial needs. The ethno-political organization (purok), the cooperative work (pintakasi) and the smooth interpersonal relationship (hugoy-hugoy) were cultural factors that explicate the strength of the bonding social capital. This article concluded that the inclusion of a cultural variable in the bonding social capital discussion is relevant and found that a flood-prone community, and those communities which are susceptible to natural hazards, relied on their social capital with greater expectations from the bonding social capital.
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With storms getting stronger and floods and landslides becoming part of the weather forecast, governments have already acknowledged the impact of climate change on the lives of people and on their communities (Aldrich & Meyer, 2015). The studies of Lei et al. (2014) and Goulding, et al. (2017) discussed governments' actions to mitigate the impact of natural disasters. Typhoons, floods, and other natural disasters can destroy crops and human lives, pose infrastructural damages to properties, and can even transform communities. In the Philippines, for example, these claims were proven when the southern part of the country was seriously hit by the droughts with an estimated cost of $78 million in agricultural production (Bernados, 2017).

As a defense against these destructive effects of disasters, technologies were developed to track the path of typhoons and forecast their strengths and potencies to protect ultimately human lives. Engineering solutions coupled with economic and market analysis on the utilization of the natural resources as a component for the climate change mitigation were developed (Bauer et al., 2016; Wossen, et al., 2015). However, empirical studies have shown that communities can adapt to certain conditions and develop survival strategies (Lei et al., 2014). Survival strategies developed by communities were the outcomes of ethnocultural practices developed across generations (Lin, 2007; Hinton, 2015). These findings were corroborated by Yila et al. (2013), Takenoshita (2015), and Yamaguchi et al. (2017).

The existing gap on knowledge lies in the absence of the examination of the cultural context of the phenomenon experienced by the community. What are discussed instead are the development potentials of disasters and the examination of the different levels of social capital formed during post-disaster rehabilitation efforts. Ku (2015) reported that people, in the face of insurmountable challenges, can develop survival strategies, learn to cope with the situations, and even embark on post-disaster projects for community improvement purposes. In the development of these survival strategies, social capital was formed during the implementation of post-disaster actions (Baron & Gomez, 2013; Aldrich & Meyer, 2015), and by examining the social capital can lead us to the question on how social capital can become mitigation tool against natural disasters (Field, 2017).

To meet this gap, the cultural context of the post-disaster activities is highlighted in this paper. The importance of studying the cultural context in every development effort is to instill among the development planners that human development efforts need holistic approach, and climate change mitigation strategies is one of them. The role of the ethno-political organization (purok) system as a viable participatory community management strategy together with the cooperative work (pintakasi) and the smooth interpersonal relationship (pakighugoy-hugoy) was elaborated. Three questions guided this discussion, to wit: 1) can the bonding social capital be a positive tool to mitigate the impact of floods; 2) what specific dimension of social capital influences the post-disaster rehabilitation activities of the local community; and 3) what particular cultural trait operates in the use of their social capital?

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