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


  • Angelina Matthies University of Passau



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


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.

Author Biography

Angelina Matthies, University of Passau

Angelina Matthies studied Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Passau with a focus on conflicts, disasters and nation-building processes. This article gives an insight into her master thesis that is based on a two month field study in the Philippines from December 2014 till March 2015. It is dedicated to the world-wide victims of natural hazards and the warm-hearted citizens of San Francisco (Cebu Province). Contact: