Flood Risk in Metro Cebu, the Philippines: A Feminist Political Ecology Analysis

Authors: Jordana Ramalho*, London School of Economics
Topics: Urban Geography, Gender, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: urban flood risk, disaster, slums, gender, Philippines
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As the economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent in the Philippines, disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) has become a critical feature of the archipelago’s development and policy agenda. In Metro Cebu, the second largest urban centre after the country’s megacity capital Manila, urban flood management has garnered much of the attention in DRRM discussions, and is serving as justification for the demolition and resettlement of informal settler communities living in areas classes as ‘danger zones’; a highly contested albeit common occurrence in cities across Asia. Drawing on extensive qualitative evidence collected over seven months of fieldwork between 2014 and 2017, this paper applies a feminist political ecology perspective to analyse the causes and consequences of flood risk in Metro Cebu. I consider how processes of accumulation by dispossession are exacerbating flood risk among the urban poor, and highlight the ways in which class and gender politics are strategically (if contradictorily) deployed to legitimise state sanctioned displacement as well as mobilise informal settler communities in service of flood risk reduction agendas. I argue that urban flooding and associated risk management narratives and interventions are explicitly gendered and class-specific, and contend that a reorienting of disaster debates away from the ‘exceptional’ towards the ‘everyday’ is critical to the development of inclusive urban (flood) risk management strategies that address rather than reinforce conditions of vulnerability.

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