Natural disasters have various impacts on different genders and both men and women respond differently in cases of natural disasters. Historically, women account for more than half of 210 million people affected by natural disasters annually (Wiest, Mocellin, & Motsisi, 2004). They experience greater risks arising from natural hazards than men such as inequality and discrimination. A classic example is during 2013 Haiyan typhoon in the Philippines where both genders responded differently to the emergency by being involved in different situations during their survival efforts after the catastrophe. Women suffered the most because of the experienced food shortages, lack of shelter, extreme poverty and sexual and reproductive health issues (Gocotano et.al, 2015).
History and Background of Haiyan Typhoon
Haiyan typhoon occurred in 2013 in the Philippines and is one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record. It is recognized to be the deadliest storm which has ever happened in Southeast Asia, specifically the Philippines since it killed more than 6,400 people in the Philippines alone (Gocotano et.al, 2015). It originated from low-pressure areas located in hundreds of kilometers southeast of Pohnpei in Micronesia in the late 2013 and later moved towards areas with tropical cyclogenesis. The typhoon slowly developed into a tropical depression. After several days, it developed into a tropical storm and was named Haiyan, and its intensity increased tremendously after passing the island of Kayangel located in Palau (Gocotano et.al, 2015).
The Haiyan Typhoon fell into the central Philippines at a speed of 280km/h with around ten minutes sustained winds. It subsequently hit other five parts of the country causing huge catastrophic destruction. Approximately 12 million people were affected by the disaster, and most were left homeless. The country experienced extreme damage to infrastructure, and it caused environmental impact due to the destruction of Napocor Power Barge 103 which led to oil spillage (Gocotano et. al, 2015).
Typhoon Haiyan caused confirmed deaths of 6, 339 people while 1,060 individuals were missing. It led to a damage worth $2.90 billion. With more than 2 million people homeless and other 6 million displaced, the typhoon caused a humanitarian crisis in the Philippines (Madianou, 2015). The economy of the country was critically affected. The country was forced to seek aid from many countries all over the world. Over 600,000 outside evacuation centers were formed to provide temporary homes to individuals affected by the catastrophe. The government supplied them with food and medical facilities.
Women were affected the most before and after the disaster. Before the disaster, women were experiencing food shortages due to lack of resources which forced them to rely on borrowed money and food aid. The shelter was another problem since they lived in temporary tents and other resettlement sites. They faced extreme poverty and could not access health services quickly as compared to men. Another issue was sexual and reproductive health which affected them heavily (Weintraub et. al, 2016).
During the disaster, men and women responded differently to emergencies. Men decided to put themselves at risk by using their energy to save people and assets while women maintained the emotional state of the victims, providing food and care for the sick (Barmania, 2014). In survival mode, women were usually confined to home to look after their family which made them unable to access outside opportunities to earn income, thus experiencing more problems than men.
After the disaster, both males and females experienced adverse impacts due to the nature of the catastrophe. Food insecurity affected the country making them dependent on food aid from humanitarian services. However, women suffered the hardest because of home responsibilities such as taking care of children thus they could not search for food for themselves like men did. The shelter was another factor where they were forced to live in resettlement areas leading to raping of women by soldiers (Barmania, 2014). With limited health facilities and education, both genders were adversely hit causing immense setbacks on their livelihoods.
The disaster cycle involves steps which are taken by emergency departments and individuals to plan and respond in case of a disaster. In Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines government had developed a disaster cycle which was used in the emergency management of the casualties and other damages caused by the disaster. This cycle consisted of nine steps:
Exposure to Risk
This measures the quantified potential for losses which might be experienced as a result of a disaster. In the case of Haiyan typhoon, the risks which were expected included loss of lives, property and other extreme impacts. The Philippines government had analyzed the exposure of people, housing, infrastructure and human assets which were located along the cyclones pathways. The most exposed groups were women as compared to men. Thus they devised mitigation ways in case of the catastrophe.
With possible Typhoon Haiyan disaster happening in few days, the Philippines government moved more than 800,000 people who were mostly women and children to evacuation centers such as schools and churches (Weintraub et. al, 2016). However, the evacuation centers failed to withstand jet-force winds from the disaster causing huge negative impacts. This showed that their level of preparedness was below standard.
This involves subjective judgment people make about the severity of a possible risk. In Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines people were aware of incoming cyclones, but they were unaware of their intensity and the place where the typhoon would fall. They lacked attention to disaster warnings which exposed them to the disaster. The public did not receive adequate awareness about the potential disaster thus causing a communication breakdown.
The risk perception of residents living in upcountry was lower than those living in urban areas. This is because of lack of access to information about the incoming typhoon thus making them more vulnerable to disaster. Many women and children were the inhabitants of the countryside and had a little perception of the risk, unlike their men who mostly occupy urban centers near workplaces. Men could easily get informed of the disaster risks than women thus making women and young children being less prepared and worst hit during the disaster (Weintraub et. al, 2016).
This involves the level of willingness of people to respond to any occurrence (Weintraub et. al, 2016). The standard of readiness was low due to inadequate modification of storm hazard map and managing emergencies. The level of communication dissemination was weak, and the government did not provide proper location and suitable design of evacuation centers. These led to huge impacts especially on women who were not well educated on disaster preparedness.
In remote areas, women received little information about the incoming typhoon due to little training programs in areas prone to natural disasters. Moreover, women were left at home to take care of young ones during seminars of disaster preparedness as they were presented to their men. Female-headed households became disadvantaged thus making them less prepared for the typhoon Haiyan (Soria et.al, 2016)
Warning Communication and Response
The communication about incoming Haiyan typhoon was limited and inadequate. The Philippines weather agency PAGASA provided little information about storm hazard maps areas likely to receive storms before the disaster (Soria et.al, 2016). They were tasked to declare highest alert level for areas along the path of the typhoon by publishing through daily bulletins of NDRRMC and other media (Gocotano et.al, 2015). They, however, failed to relay sufficient information leading to low response rate among the people especially those in rural areas.
Women admitted having received wrong information from PAGASA because they received information about rain warning rather than storm surge. Some of the women evacuated while others remained in their homes with the hope that the rain would not be severe. This information breakdown made them worst hit than men who were mostly in their jobs in urban areas. The authorities, however, blamed them for neglecting their warnings for fear of looting and underestimation of the water forces which caused massive damages.
Haiyan typhoon caused the extensive destruction of properties such as damage to homes, schools, churches and health facilities. Agriculture which is female-dominated field was mostly hit by the storm since the major rice, and sugar producing areas were destroyed (Madianou, 2015). With the destruction of health facilities, women did not access medical care despite the rise of sexual violence after the typhoon. Women faced unattended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and contraction of STDs (Madianou, 2015).
Destruction of homes became another enormous impact on women than men. Women and young girls became so insecure because of risks of being sexually abused in evacuation centers (Madianou, 2015). The soldiers guarding the resettlement homes exploited young girls and widows sexually that led to a significant number of pregnant women after the disaster, and many died due to sexually transmitted diseases and other life-threatening complications from sexual abuse (Madianou, 2015).
Many people who survived the disaster developed psychological problems due to loss of loved ones. Women lost their men who were the breadwinners, therefore, subjecting them to extreme poverty. They lacked the ability to look for food themselves and were raped after the disaster further affecting them psychologically. The majority of women developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to inability to recover from massive losses which prevailed on them (Soria et.al, 2016)
Both men and women faced financial instability, physical injuries and threat of life which affected them mentally for several years. With climate change, people who experienced the disaster were still worried about a possible disaster in future. They feared another huge disaster which might kill the majority of people in the country. Other people especially women and young girls became scared and developed anxiety after the catastrophe because of future concerns due to loss of resources and family (Weintraub et. al, 2016).
The Philippines responded through providing food aid, shelter and medical facilities to the affected people. However, their response was slow since they could not reach remote areas in the time leading to the death of the majority of survivors especially women and children due to hunger. There was law and order breakdown after the disaster causing tension and panic throughout the country especially among women due to fear of being manipulated by men. The authorities responded very slowly leading to a wave of sexual harassment throughout the country (Weintraub et. al, 2016).
There was the slow delivery of health facilities which increased the spread of infectious diseases. Women and children who were the majority in evacuation centers lacked mosquito nets, medicines and developed water and sanitation problem (Wiest, Mocellin, & Motsisi, 2004). This became such a risk due to the rise of diseases such as cholera which killed the majority of them. They had to depend on humanitarian assistance for rapid response in critical areas of health and food.
Several governmental and international agencies assisted the victims in recovering from the disaster. Medical centers were built to take care of psychological problems which hit the victims es...
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