Community-Based Disaster Risk Management in the Philippines: Achievements and Challenges of the Purok System

Angelina Matthies


The purok system in the Philippines is promoted as a voluntary self-organization at the sub-village level which strengthens community resilience to natural hazards. In 2011, the system received the UN Sasakawa Award and gained prominence among the practitioner community. Based on a qualitative study in the municipality of San Francisco (Cebu province) from December 2014 to March 2015, the article elaborates on the achievements and challenges of the purok system. Striking merits encompass efficient and effective information dissemination and evacuation measurements between all levels of political administration that stem from the system’s remarkable enforcement of human and social capital. This is underpinned by a clear determination of roles and responsibility that is subsumed under the concept of accountability. However, the purok system faces internal challenges of maintenance and implies profound conceptual ambiguities regarding the notion of voluntarism and capabilities that favor clientelism. Nevertheless, the purok system clearly distinguishes itself from conventional community-based disaster risk management practices and implies potentials that are highly beneficial for strengthening resilience in disaster prone areas.


Community-Based Disaster Risk Management; Purok System; Resilience; Social Capital; Voluntarism

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