Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies for building resilient communities, Albay (Province), Philippines
Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies for building resilient communities, Albay (Province), Philippines - ©By Dexbaldon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43882874

Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies for building resilient communities

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Albay (Province)

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Main actors

Local Government, Regional Government, Community / Citizen Group

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Project area


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Ongoing since 1995/01

The province of Albay in the Philippines adopted strategies for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) to foster economic prosperity and keep its population safe.

The province of Albay in the Philippines is severely affected by tropical typhoons and volcanic eruptions which present a major threat to all citizens.

The "zero casualty" approach provides a framework to better respond to natural hazards and effects caused by climate change.

The approach includes capacity building of the community; children are educated on how to react in disaster situations and citizens are encouraged to participate in awareness raising activities on climate change. 

The Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategy is based on institutional capacity development. The Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office plays a key role in disseminating communications and responses in times of natural hazards.

A regional real-time early warning system (including mapping and monitoring) and the establishment of efficient evacuation plans combined with legal and financial strengthening of disaster risk management has also been implemented.

This case study was contributed from the UCLG Learning Team (learning@uclg.org).

Sustainable Development Goals

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Guangzhou Award

This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2012 in the following category: Deserving initiatives.

Albay (Province), Philippines

Administrative structure
The capital of the province is the city of Legazpi

The province of Albay forms part of south-eastern Luzon Island, in the Philippines. Being archipelagic in nature, the Province of Albay is exposed to various phenomena of intense precipitation, floods, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis and storm surge monsoons. The Mayon volcano presents a significant natural hazard and its periodic eruptions put several community settlements (three cities and 15 municipalities of the Province, with a total population of 1,233,423) at high risk. The region is also prone to regular typhoons that have caused major loss of life and property in the past.

Agriculture is a key economic industry in Albay. Together with the fishery and forestry sectors, they are the largest employers in the region, providing jobs for 47.7% of the total workforce. This strong dependence has a significant impact on many other sectors of the community including health-nutrition, education, food security and overall socio-economic development. These are compounded by the long-term effects of global warming and climate change that induces extreme events (intense rainfall, pronounced dry season and increased precipitation).

Combined with the fact, the province had no disaster management plan or office and disaster risk reduction was not included in the city administration’s budget. To tackle these issues and significantly reduce the vulnerability of the citizens, the regional government has launched the Zero Casualty Strategy, which aims to combat and reduce the risk of natural hazards.

The disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation initiatives of Albay are focussed around the enhancement of coping capabilities, resilience of the population and adaptive capacity.

  1. institutional capacity development - As a first step, a fulltime disaster management office was established, and DRR was introduced through legal decrees that established the Albay Public Safety and emergency Management Office (APSEMO); the Center for Initiatives and Research on Climate Adaptation-Climate Change Academy (CIRCA-CCA) and the Albay Millennium Development Goal Office (AMDGO);
  2. human resource development program - the strategies apply to staff members who oversee the program and the citizen population to achieve a shared common goal. A particular focus has been made towards networking local, national and international stakeholders;
  3. physical capacity development - addresses physical infrastructure support such as disaster operation centre; climate change academy; installation of early and real time warning systems on landslide, tsunami, flood and lahar; communication facilities and permanent evacuation shelters;
  4. community partnership and support - engaging stakeholders from the community, academics, private sector and various government agencies.

The institutional approach on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation ensures that both aspects are mainstreamed in local governance, including development planning, investment plans and agricultural land use planning. Moreover, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation is being integrated into the Philippine's educational system (Albay model) to transfer knowledge, skills and habits on adaptation.

Specific activities on climate change adaptation have been implemented:

  • Albay convened and hosted the first National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation and Albay Declaration on Climate Change Adaptation.
  • Manila Declaration on Climate Change Adaptation
  • ASEAN Workshop on Climate Change and Tourism

The institutional based implementation of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation ensured that annual budget appropriation is provided by the local government of Albay. This ensures continuity and sustainability of the program. However, the limited resources from the local level necessitates external support, these include funding support from following organisations:

  • AECID (Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo: Spanish Government), evacuation shelter construction in disaster vulnerable areas in Albay.
  • UNDP (United Nations Development Programme)
  • DSWD (Department of Social Work and Development) Micro Financing Program
  • JICA (Japan International Co-operation Agency), Permanent Evacuation Center

The implementation of an early warning system in combination with effective evacuation procedures ensures that potential disaster, as the result of natural hazards, can be anticipated and citizens can be evacuated in time.

The comprehensive approach of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. has brought new innovations and established sustainable systems and procedures:

  • comprehensive land use plan with integrated disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation approach, and 
  • demand driven solutions.

Despite the existing hazards of climate change, development of various industries in the province continues to increase. Looking at disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as an investment, the province is seen as a good example in taking a proactive approach and providing alternative long-term solution-building.

Resistance to new strategies and innovations are inevitable. The main barriers were addressed by implementing awareness raising programs and establishing permanent offices. This allowed for:

  • programs to be ongoing and available to all citizens
  • strategies to be modified according to best suitability 
  • funding to be readily available.

The disaster risk reduction - climate change adaptation initiatives are based on relevant and up to date information that serve as the basis for policy recommendation and specific activities.

The establishment of the regional early warning system required significant financial investment as well as a shift in the culture around risk reduction. Community participation was crucial in the form of civil society groups and NGOs who facilitated the establishment of efficient evacuation procedures. However, the efforts have paid off and for 19 years not a single casualty caused by a natural hazard has been reported in the province of Albay.

The achievement of “zero casualty” during typhoon, volcanic eruption, landslide, storm surge and flood was due to:

  • the establishment of data on population at risk
  • the development of a contingency plan to include hazard-resource-risk mapping 
  • the establishment of a community-based warning system that empowers the community to respond to threats.  

The same is true for climate change adaptation, where long term effects are anticipated by establishing research baseline on sectors that are highly vulnerable such as agriculture, environment, forest, marine, etc.

To disseminate its good practice and make LGUs (Local Government Unite) resilient to natural disasters, the Province of Albay Province has agreed to partner Oxfam Philippines in contributing to the compilation and dissemination of good practices on disaster risk management at national and local levels in the Philippines.  Together they have published “Building Resilient Communities: Good Practices in Disaster Risk Management in the Philippines” with one chapter introducing Albay’s Permanent Risk Management Office. This documentation was shared and widely disseminated to all LGUs in the country, and the adoption of a permanent Disaster Risk Management Office (DRMO) has been replicated in some provinces. Another publication “Innovative Humanitarian Response within a Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Model: Learning from the 2009 Mayon Volcano Eruption” has also been made available as resource for other LGUs.

The province also continues to provide technical support on disaster risk reduction - climate change adaptation initiatives to other provinces, cities and municipalities through on-going collaboration and educational visits to Albay.

The Province of Albay also shares its resources and provides technical support to other provinces during major catastrophic events through “Team Albay”. The team provides services including: water and sanitation, health-medical, psychosocial care and mental health, search and rescue, relief, and technical support on the disaster response operations such as camp management, relief operation, reporting system, risk analysis, health and water sanitation Team Albay has provincial, regional and national offices providing expertise on disaster response.

Building Resilient and Safe Communities through Shared Responsibility towards Safe and Shared Development, Guangzhou Award for Urban Innovationm, http://www.guangzhouaward.org/650/content_805.html (accessed 15 March 2016).

Building Resilient and Safe Communities through Shared Responsibility towards Safe and Shared Development, Urban innovation database, http://bit.ly/252k32r (accessed 15 March 2016).

- UCLG Peer-Learning Note no. 24, https://www.uclg.org/sites/default/files/local_and_regional_disaster_risk_reduction.pdf


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