“Urban Poor Vulnerabilities, Solidarity Networks, and Pathways to Resilience” was presented by Dr. Anna Marie Karaos at the National Resilience Council COVID-19 KNOWLEDGE SERIES Webinar 3 – Resilient Recovery of the Most Vulnerable: Challenges and Opportunities on 12 May 2020.
Dr. Karaos’ presentation has been transcribed and the full documentation may be accessed below along with the video recording of her discussion.
Page 3 - Where the urban poor are Page 6 - Vulnerability profile of Metro Manila’s urban poor Page 8 - Urban poor livelihoods and the urban economy Page 12 - The role of informal solidarity networks Page 14 - Pathways to resilience-building of the urban poor
Dr. Anna Marie “Jing” Karaos is a social development professional and academic specializing in urban poverty research and policy advocacy. She is the Associate Director and Head of the Urban Poverty and Governance Program of the John J Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues, an advocacy-oriented research center under the Philippine Jesuits. She is a former Chair of the Caucus of Development NGO Networks, or CODE NGO, an umbrella network of 12 national and regional NGO networks in the Philippines, and a former Chair and currently a member of the Board of PHILSSA (Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies) which is a network of NGOs engaged in urban poverty-focused development work. As an academic, she is a Professorial Lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Ateneo de Manila University and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the Council of Advisors of the Coastal Cities at Risk Philippines Project. She obtained her Doctorate in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York City and Master of Philosophy on Economics and Politics of Development from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (UNDRR Asia Pacific) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia (UNESCAP) and the Pacific International Recovery Platform co-organized a webinar on: COVID-19: Opportunities for Resilient Recovery as part of UNDRR Asia-Pacific’s Webinar Series on COVID-19. The webinar was conducted on May 7, 14:00 (Bangkok Time).
As countries continue to meet the immediate needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis is forcing policymakers to consider the unavoidable trade-offs between saving lives and preserving jobs and livelihoods. Throughout Asia-Pacific, governments are considering options for restarting their economic engines and putting people back to work, including in key sectors that have been most impacted by the pandemic. Experts are considering what recovery might look like once the virus is contained but also how countries can use this recovery opportunity to achieve longer-term resilience goals, including decarbonization of the world economy.
The webinar highlighted lessons learned from past disaster recovery events, and consider how countries can start preparing for a recovery that is climate-sensitive, inclusive, and contributes to global efforts to build more resilient systems that are better placed to prevent such crises in the future.
The full video recording of the webinar may be accessed by clicking here
Former health secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral compels us to think beyond today’s crisis. Scientists predict a second wave. The development of a cure and a vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 is going to take time. Even then, new pandemics and disease transmission are going to be a fact of life in a globalized world. Dr. Cabral’s words are simple and challenges us to do the right thing.
“Since the crisis that has caused our economy to stop on its tracks is a health issue, maybe there are things to say on how developing a resilient health care system, able to deal with shocks like this, is the ultimate solution to similar health, turned socioeconomic disasters, that are really just around the corner, threatening our way of life the same way that coronavirus has done.
This makes the case for why increasing our health care system’s capacity should be part of the national stimulus strategy. If we do not, we will simply repeat the experience we are going through now, maybe next year, maybe two years from now, who knows? For sure, however, it will be sooner rather than later.
Let’s get ready by spending on improving our health care system. Spend on improving hard infrastructure, BUILD, build, build! The kind of hospital where you would want to be admitted if you ever have a serious illness. Spend on training, recruiting and retaining more human health resource, Employ, employ, employ! The kind of doctor you would want taking care of you and the kind of nurse who will provide expert assistance to your physician. Spend on research and development of medical equipment, drugs, vaccines, supplies and materials such as personal protective equipment. Spend on production and stockpiling of these so that we are not forever dependent on imports. In a global crisis, we are going to get what we need only after the needs of the producing countries and the richer buying countries are satisfied.
Let’s spend on our health. Invest in family planning, or we will have an extra four million people to take care of when the next contagion comes along. Invest in waste management or we will drown in a tsunami of used personal protective equipment (they are made of plastic) that will pollute the land forever. Invest in water so that we can at least have some to wash our hands with. Invest in housing so that when we call for social distancing and home isolation, they will have some space to do this properly. Invest in data technology so that we can know where we are and can plan our next steps confidently. Otherwise, we will repeat this cycle of spending trillions that we don’t have, to protect business and our workers and revive our economy. As we always say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
“It’s the public health care system, stupid” is what former secretary Cabral is saying – a twist of James Carville’s campaign slogan for Bill Clinton. The key takeaway from what Dr. Cabral says is that a resilient health care system will prevent a health issue – and the next one is just around the corner – from becoming a socioeconomic disaster. A resilient health care system will spare our country the terrible dilemma of choosing between loss of life or loss of livelihood.
Digital response to COVID-19
To me, a key component of health and economic resilience is the application of digital technology to more effectively address the health challenges and its economic consequences.
With lockdowns and other social distancing measures in effect, more and more people are relying on the internet for information and advice and hence, deploying effective digital technologies can help contain the outbreak, meet the needs of people for accurate information and soften the impact of the crisis on their lives.
Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to give an accurate picture of infections, and allow government and business to react and plan accordingly. Digital applications can help trace and test people who have come into contact with an infected person. I understand IATF has issued a “rapid pass” with digital tracing potential. Digital communication channels can provide reliable information on global and national COVID-19 developments, information about the outbreak, travel restrictions, practical guidance on protection, and governmental response. A comprehensive supply chain data application can facilitate the movement of goods such as food and essential services in an optimal way and avoid long lines at checkpoints. Digital ID and digital signature can help ensure the effective delivery of unemployment assistance, food relief and other social benefits.
But before we can unlock the promise of digital technology, however, we have to feed it with baseline data. One of the most basic data is a unique lifetime ID number for each and every Filipino. I understand that the Philippines and six other countries are the only ones who do not have a national identity system in place. In other places like Singapore and Taiwan, a unique ID number is used for the various cards and permits for health services, social security, passports, tax ID, drivers’ license and many others. That way, data can be consolidated and be easily accessible, while balancing health and public service imperatives and privacy concerns.
As an aged veteran of technology, I can foresee the many uses of a National ID System. But I may have to wait a while. About a year and a half ago, I heard a presentation by NEDA on the planned National ID System to be implemented by multiple agencies such as the Philippine Statistics Authority, NEDA and DSWD.
Frankly, as the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the broth. Worse yet, as of today, the respective agencies are still in the bidding process. I would suggest that President Duterte light a fire under the relevant bureaucracies to give this the highest priority and get this completed at the soonest possible time. According to the timetable, trials are underway and targets to cover the entire population by 2025. Indonesia, with almost three times the population of the Philippines is set to complete their identity card issuance soon.
We fought so hard for a DICT since the time of FVR, Erap, GMA, and PNoy. DICT presence NOW is an imperative.
President Duterte has extended the enhanced community quarantine to May 15. Despite sentiments of some including LGUs and businessmen, he personally listened to experts, scientists, and former secretaries of health before he agreed with the IATF. In general, the public supported that decision, although many complained about not receiving the promised food and cash grants to help them tide over the quarantine period.
The appointment of former AFP chief of staff General Carlito Galvez and current presidential adviser on the peace process as chief implementer of the National Action Plan has been widely hailed. The National Resilience Council had a roundtable discussion via Zoom with 200 plus participants. Former Major General Restituto Padilla Jr., the spokesman of the National Action Plan (NAP) COVID-19, was the key note speaker. Padilla emphasized the need for a whole of society approach to addressing this crisis. Of particular significance was the four measures of success that the NAP had set for itself in fulfilling its mandate: 1) Reduction of new COVID cases. 2) Reduction of deaths. 3) Increase in recovered patients. And finally, 4) Normalization of the economy. These are clear and implementable metrics that the general public can understand and appreciate.
However, at the ground level though, there have been instances where overzealous implementation of the quarantine has led to blatant disregard for legal rights and privacy.
There was an incident at the Pacific Plaza Towers. The PNP stormed the condominium complex at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City on Sunday, April 19, and accosted residents who were at the open area of the condo.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said it was illegal for policemen to barge into the premises of a condominium. “The police needs a search or arrest warrant issued by a judge to enter a residential condominium building.”
The Taguig City Police said it was Mayor Lino Cayetano who ordered cops to go to the condo citing reports that residents were not observing physical distancing. Even with the mayor’s order, Carpio said the police still had no legal basis.
Retired Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban opined: The armed intrusion by policemen into the Pacific Plaza Towers in Taguig City, the “house” of the residents therein, may have violated the constitutional “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects,” unless it can be factually shown that their acts were made in conjunction with, or were necessary incidents of, a valid warrantless arrest and search.
I am sure there are many similar cases of such confrontation that have gone unreported particularly in those areas where residents do not have the means to use social media to air their grievances. There are reports of homeless people, vendors and people who needed to go to work being arrested and detained for as long as two days when they should have been released after being booked.
It has also been reported that the DOLE labor official assigned in Taichung in Taiwan had arranged for the “deportation” of a caregiver with her employer and recruiter because she was critical of the Duterte administration’s handling of the pandemic crisis in her social media posts. This is a clear case of overreach and worse, forced a foreign government, who of course would not be a party to such action without a legal process being undertaken, to speak out. MECO resident representative Angelito Banayo subsequently disavowed the labor official’s actuations.
One tragic incident highlights fears that law enforcers may have taken at face value the President’s statement made in a press conference to shoot violators of the quarantine. Corporal Winston Ragos, retired from the Army for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was unfortunate to run afoul of police forces manning a checkpoint in Quezon City. According to eyewitnesses, Ragos was complying with the police officers’ instructions, when he was shot as he reached for his bag, which his family says contained a bottle of water and documents attesting to his impaired mental health.
All of these incidents of heavy handedness raised the specter of martial law when a leaked Air Force memo spoke of getting ready for a martial law type of lockdown. The President himself threatened to declare one, thus, exacerbating the public’s concern.
US helping hand
Although the conversation between the President and US President Donald Trump on bilateral COVID-19 cooperation captured the media’s attention, what has not been given enough prominence is direct US assistance to our efforts to fight the pandemic. The US has, thus, far provided more than P470 million to support the Philippine’s COVID-19 response, in addition to 1,300 cots donated to the Office of Civil Defense and Philippine General Hospital. US assistance is also strengthening the capacity to detect, treat and defeat the virus. This complements nearly P30 billion in assistance the US has provided over the past 20 years to improve health care in the Philippines. This does not count the invaluable role that Filipino alumni of US educational grant programs are playing at the forefront of the country’s effort against the pandemic.
American companies in the Philippines are also doing their share in the fight against COVID. To cite a few examples, Ford is lending vehicles for medical use; UPS and FedEx are delivering critical supplies; Procter & Gamble and 3M are producing PPE; and Coca-Cola and Pepsi are supplying beverages for frontline workers. US companies CapitalOne, Marriot, Dow, Cargill, AIG, Google, Airbnb and Facebook are also providing assistance.
During WWII “Lebensraum” became the ideological principle of Germany providing justification for territorial expansion into Central and Eastern Europe. They justified it as necessary for their survival. There is an amazing similarity to China’s actuations in the Spratleys.
Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic series: Tools for business continuity in the era of COVID-19: How could businesses prepare for reopening?
May 7, 2020 | 9:00 PM (GMT +8)
Up to 80% of all investment in any given country is coming from the private sector. It is there critical that the private sector engages to make this investment risk-informed. The private sector is a critical participant in the creation of risk-resilient societies. By combining the intellectual (know-how) and capital assets of the private sector with the public sector and other stakeholders solutions will be developed and implemented to achieve the targets of the Sendai Framework by 2030.
At the same time, the COVID-19 situation reveals the challenges of managing health risks while reducing disaster risks. All countries face systemic risks, such as those associated with disease outbreaks, with the potential for very significant socio-economic impacts.
The webinar aims to give business owners the tools to better prepare for and respond to such events. The webinar will share leadership strategies adopted by the private sector to continue business during the COVID-19 situation.
Ms. Chloe Demrovsky-President and CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI)
Ms. Liza B. Silerio-Vice President for Corporate Compliance Group, SM Prime Holdings Inc. Philippines
Mr. Jorge Noel Y. Wieneke III- President and founding member of the Association of Filipino Franchisors, Inc.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) – San Miguel Corporation beefed up its efforts in helping communities affected by the enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19.
The Ramon Ang-led conglomerate announced on Thursday it will donate 560,000 kilos of rice as part of its relief efforts to assist communities that are vulnerable to the disease and the effects of the quarantine.
“Starting this week, we will also be adding rice to our food donations,” Ang said in a statement. “We have been able to source 560,000 kilos of rice. We plan to give 10 kilos per family and through this, we hope to be able to continue to help the most vulnerable among us – people who are out of work and families struggling to eat.”
Ang, who is the president and chief operating officer of SMC, also reported that their food donation drive has reached 126,000 families.
SMC provided 1.1 million pieces of canned goods, 695,000 sachets of coffee, 288,000 packs of biscuits, 21,630 servings of its version of “nutribun” and 24,338 servings of pandesal. It has also donated spreads, dairy milk drinks, and water.
SMC’s food donations are being coursed through various channels, including local government units, charitable groups, and church organizations. It has also made direct donations to hospitals and various communities all over Luzon.
LGUs that received food donations from San Miguel include Manila, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Malabon, Pateros, Mandaluyong, Navotas, Marikina, Paranaque, Makati, Pasay, Muntinlupa, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela.
Hospital beneficiaries include the Philippine General Hospital, The Medical City, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Las Pinas General Hospital, and the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.
Families under the care of SMC’s Better World Tondo, a food bank and learning facility established last year, were also beneficiaries of the food donations.
SMC also utilized its manufacturing facilities to produce 70% ethyl alcohol to address the shortage of hand sanitizers and disinfectants, and is also donating 13,000 units of its own Protect Plus Gold powdered disinfectant for the sanitation of hospitals and government and public facilities.
Ang stressed the company, through its San Miguel Foods business, is committed to continue providing food donations to those who need it the most.
Ang also assured the public that the company has the capacity to produce enough food for the country for the next six months.
“What we want is for food to be one less worry of vulnerable families, health workers, and front-liners against COVID-19,” he said.
GENEVA, 25 March, 2020 – Trace, test and treat. That sums up the strategy pursued by the Republic of Korea since it detected its first case of COVID-19 on January 20 and its first death on February 20, without imposing a lockdown.
The country has managed to keep its mortality rate at 1.4% compared to a global mortality rate of 4.34% despite an outbreak triggered by the activities of a religious organization in Daegu, Gyungbuk, which contributed to a spike in confirmed cases in late February.
The highest recorded number of infections on a single day in Seoul where 25 million people live, was 75 compared to 735 on a single day in Daegu, population 2.5 million. To date, 85% of the confirmed cases can be traced to Daegu.
The strategy pursued by Korea was explained in some detail today to an online audience of 900 disaster management and health specialists from 105 countries, by Dr. Wang-Jun Lee, CEO and Chairman of Myoungi Hospital and Executive Chairman of the Korean Hospital Association in a webinar organized by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s office in Incheon, Korea and the World Health Organization.
“As of today, total confirmed cases are 9,137 among them 3,730 were discharged after recovery and 126 died. So until now fully recovered patients percentage is 41% and mortality rate is 1.4%,” said Dr. Lee who went on to describe the three distinct phases of the epidemiological curve in Korea.
From January 20 until February 17, the number of new infections was low but during phase two from February 18 till March 11, the curve started to trend upwards with patient number 31 associated with the religious group in Daegu. The curve peaked at the end of February and started to level off.
“Phase three started from March 12 till now when we have seen a downward trend in new cases with sporadic new clusters of infections,” he said.
Dr. Lee pointed out that unlike in China, more women (61.4%) than men (38.6%) were infected and the most infected demographic is aged 20-39 recorded 2,419 infections. These unique statistics were linked to members of the religious organization in Daegu.
Nonetheless, as in China, most deaths were among older patients with underlying diseases with a mortality rate of 10% for people in their 80s.
Dr. Lee outlined the Government’s four main policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The first policy is one of complete openness and transparency in sharing updated information on new infections through the Korean Centre for Disease Control, simultaneously with all stakeholders, including the media, on where, when and how the infections were discovered and investigated.
Dr. Lee said this was a key learning from the outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2015 and the result is that there is no confusion among the public about what needs to be done to avoid spreading the virus. No cities have been locked down, no transport closed, and international entry is still open.
The second policy is containment and mitigation. Containment was started after the first case was identified in China on December 30, 2019, and the focus is on identifying infected patients immediately and isolating them to interrupt transmission. “We track all suspected cases and trace all the confirmed cases,” he said.
Mitigation seeks to lower the peak of the outbreak to make it within Korea’s capacity to respond primarily through a social distancing campaign introduced just after the big outbreak in Daegu at the end of February.
It was also decided to close all schools and to recommend voluntary restrictions including no large gatherings and working from home.
“We are so proud of the promoted participation of the patients,” he said.
The third policy is the triage and treatment system developed as a result of the experience of the MERS outbreak. In any outbreak the biggest challenge is the overflow of the patients exceeding the capacity of the hospital staff, said Dr. Lee.
To overcome this, a triage system was created comprising five isolation hospitals to take care of 19% of cases designated critical and severe, while mild to moderate cases are handled by a network of public community hospitals. Bed spaces have also been created through revamped hotels, gyms and residential centres.
The fourth policy promotes massive screening and fast tracking of suspect cases, underpinned by the accelerated production of emergency diagnostic kits with a weekly diagnostic capability of 430,000. Dr. Lee said the main weapon is the diagnostic kits combined with drive-through and walk-through test centres.
Korea has more than 100 labs working round the clock with daily testing capacity of 20,000 and this has been crucial in keeping COVID-19 at bay.
In opening remarks, Dr. Stella Chungong, WHO Director, Health Security and Preparedness, said: “This webinar is timely as it is very important to learn and apply the lessons learnt and best practices in Covid Response, and to identify challenges in preparing for, and managing COVID-19 across the world.”
UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) head Mami Mizutori has been an advocate of a comprehensive approach to deal with disasters, backed by international collaboration. She explains this approach to Pradeep Thakur in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak:
The global attention on Covid-19 is unprecedented. Is this because the rich are more affected?
Like many disease outbreaks, Covid-19 does not distinguish between rich and poor. There is worldwide attention on it because it threatens every country regardless of development status. Disasters affect all, however disasters don’t affect everyone equally and in the case of Covid-19, it is also true. This is why, developed countries with more resources available to respond to the outbreak will need to attend first and foremost to the safety and well-being of their own citizens, but there also must be international support to low- and middle-income countries that are struggling to cope with the outbreak. Pandemics do not recognise borders so a united international response is vital under the leadership and guidance of the World Health Organization.
We have seen Ebola and bird flu. How different is Covid-19?
Covid-19 is not an epidemic confined to a few countries. It has been declared a pandemic by the WHO. There is a crucial difference. The list of countries reporting outbreaks is growing daily. There is no nation on Earth that can claim to be immune from the threat. Thousands have died and many more thousands are fighting for their lives in hospitals around the world. We are still in the early stages of the pandemic. It is urgent that countries which have yet to experience the full brunt of the disease should observe and learn from those who have been most impacted, notably China, Italy, Iran and the Republic of Korea. There are many lessons we can learn from these countries.
How can India effectively deal with risks arising out of disasters?
India has a very robust policy on disaster risk management, and this is evident from its zero tolerance approach to casualties in disaster events and its full embrace of the Sendai Framework. The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, and supported by UNDRR emphasises the importance of public health infrastructure.
India does not see the Covid-19 outbreak as simply a health issue but has taken an all-of-government, all-of-society approach which is very much in the spirit of the Sendai Framework. The public health authorities are working closely with bodies such as the NDMA and government ministries responsible for civil aviation and shipping and the production of textiles including protective materials such as masks.
India is also using mobile technology in a smart way that could be adopted by other countries. Anyone making a mobile phone call must listen to a health message in the language of their choice before their call commences. This is a great way of communicating with a population of 1.3 billion people.
India is also showing leadership at the regional level. I understand also that while the number of cases currently is low, India is stepping up its response and surveillance capacity and mapping its resources. At the same time, it has made donations to a regional response fund and expressed its willingness to help other nations with their response. This is international solidarity of the highest order and I can only commend India for its approach.
Could Europe and the US have handled things better?
Hindsight is a great teacher. The Covid-19 outbreak is a step into the unknown. Nobody could reasonably claim to have been fully prepared for what is unfolding now across the globe. I would like to call attention to a critical observation about the changing nature of risk, which UNDRR highlighted in the Global Assessment of Risk report published in May 2019. GAR 2019 is very clear that risk is increasingly systemic. We are seeing this with Covid-19 rattling the global economy. The only way of fighting systemic risk is with a joined-up systemic prevention and response approach. This means that we cannot work in silos, we must map and model how risk cascades into other risks, and importantly we must be able to work trans-boundary, in a unified fashion and not take nationalistic stances to risks – which, as we very well know, are no respecters of borders.
Many countries have curtailed economic activities. How should governments mitigate the impact?
Poverty eradication is the No 1 sustainable development goal. In this current crisis it is important that provision is made for those who are especially vulnerable. This can take many forms including cash payments, emergency shelter and food distribution programmes. The most important thing is that the poor be consulted about their needs and be included in the response planning process.
In December 2019 the Chinese authorities notified the world that a virus was spreading through their communities. In the following months, it spread to other countries, with cases doubling within days. This virus is the “Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2”, that causes the disease called COVID19, and that everyone simply calls Coronavirus.
What actually happens when it infects a human and what should we all do?