Bernadette P. Resurrección, “Gender, floods, mobility and agricultural transformations in low elevation zones of Quezon Province, Philippines: A Post-disaster View"
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Bernadette P. Resurrección, “Gender, floods, mobility and agricultural transformations in low elevation zones of Quezon Province, Philippines: A Post-disaster View"



Presented at the Agri4D 2013 conference at the session on Transforming Gender Roles in Agriculture: - Ways Forward

Presented at the Agri4D 2013 conference at the session on Transforming Gender Roles in Agriculture: - Ways Forward



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  • While this happened in 2004, there have been more frequent incidences of floods and most damaging is that river banks are eroding, which were once agricultural fields.
  • For question 3, mention: Cresswell & Uteng ‘acquiring mobility is often analogous to a struggle for acquiring new subjectivity/
  • Say that mobilities became a recurrent discursive theme throughout field work conversations and interviews, talking to people I thought that a paradigm of mobilities would help make sense of the people’s experiences of living with and surviving disaster
  • Landless people and in-migrants are considered mobile and disadvantaged – engaging in marginal livelihoods such as charcoal production, which are censured livelihoodsThose who do not move are the landed and the feminized – this is considered an advantage, a privilege
  • Resettled people continue to return to their leftover uneroded farmlands by the river and fishing areas
  • Sidestepping people’s real mobile lives that compel them to return to nearly eroded former farmlands

Bernadette P. Resurrección, “Gender, floods, mobility and agricultural transformations in low elevation zones of Quezon Province, Philippines: A Post-disaster View" Presentation Transcript

  • 1. 1 GENDER, FLOODS, MOBILITY IN AGRICULTURAL TRANSFORMATIONS: A POST-DISASTER VIEW Low elevation zones in Quezon Province, Philippines Bernadette P. Resurrección, Ph.D Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute Associate Professor (adjunct) Asian Institute of Technology
  • 2. 2 Background This study is part of a larger three-year (2011-2014) research project on ‘Rethinking Gender in Development in Asia’ awarded by the Norwegian Research Council in 2011 Context: Risk-prone low elevation coastal zones on the eastern side of Quezon Province, Philippines (municipalities of Real, Infanta, General Nakar or REINA), which experienced a big flood in 2004 due to swift runoffs from increasingly denuded uplands • Widened river system due to runoffs and heavy siltation, while agricultural lands severely eroded by more frequent river flooding and heavier precipitation • Over time, livelihoods have been changing from rice and coconut farming to irregular vegetable farming, heightened charcoal production, non farm occupations
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  • 5. 5 Objectives and questions Generally explores the complex factors and dynamics that define people’s attempts to secure their farm livelihoods and build resilience in the longer term especially when disaster risks become more imminent. Specifically, addresses the following questions: • How do people make sense of floods historically and as continued uncertainty? • What social/gender identities and meanings are created, maintained, altered by people’s mobility or immobility? • How do people adapt to flood risks and changes in farm livelihoods, and are there gender and other social stratifications and vulnerabilities produced and reproduced as they adapt? • How do institutions adapt to increased flooding and people’s insecure farm and non farm livelihoods, and how is gender implicated in their programs?
  • 6. 6 Concepts • Political ecology, as it considers social and economic scales of influence such as the growth of industrial estates and continued natural resource extraction that combine with variable weather events affecting agrarian livelihoods contexts: ‘disasters are fundamentally a human-environment problem’ (Robbins, 2004; Oliver-Smith, 2013) • Gender and mobilities (Creswell and Uteng, 2008; Elliot and Urry, 2010) as it intersects with theories of gender and social difference: ‘acquiring mobility is often analogous to a struggle for acquiring new subjectivity’ (Cresswell and Uteng, 2008) • Disaster and disaster recovery as gendered and meaning-making events and processes (Cupples, 2007; Hyndman, 2008; Enarson, 1998)   Feminist political ecology of agricultural change and disaster:  posits a historical and scalar view of socially differentiated livelihoods and disaster experiences;  de-centers gender and investigates how social difference constitutes power;  interprets how people make sense of their recovery from disaster and their changing subjectivities as they are changing livelihoods and living with disasters  explores how power relations come to frame particular institutional languages of disaster and climate resilience programs
  • 7. 7 Methodology Sequential mixed methods approach was employed, following two phases of data collection (2011-2014) • Phase 1: Building propositions through qualitative data collection (key informants, focus groups, in depth interviews, desk reviews, scoping exercises) • Phase 2: Testing the pervasiveness of propositions from qualitative data through quantitative data collection (survey of 500 individuals in 8 study sites throughout REINA)   Currently wrapping up Phase 2 after producing a survey instrument from the initial qualitative findings of Phase 1
  • 8. 8 Findings • • • • • • • Increasing and rapid soil erosion leading to landlessness Decline in soil fertility due to frequent floods and in some plots, remaining layers of hardened mud from mudslides, and damage of irrigation canals and sources (85% of survey respondents) Multi-livelihood portfolios include cultivating monovarieties in less affected land plots (2 cropping seasons) to multiple crop cultivation and charcoal production Planting period has shifted in the last 5 years New tenurial arrangements: from landlords to agricultural workers, and increasing tenancy (55% of survey respondents) Most farmers also engage in non farm work (60% of survey respondents), many of the men are construction workers (35%), and women are laundry workers (21%) Increasing engagement in non farm livelihoods and mobility
  • 9. 9 Mobilities mark the boundary between a prosperous past and a present period of resource decline • • • • „Our wealth will never come back to us. Our lives were better in the past.‟ „In the past, we could still afford to send our children to college.‟ „Today, our children – only high-school graduates – leave our villages to find work elsewhere.‟ „Now, even women and mothers have to travel to work and earn something.‟ Men go off to construction sites, which is often irregular. Whereas more women today work as domestic workers in Manila or Laguna and their jobs are more stable‟
  • 10. 10 Disadvantage is assigned to types of mobility • „Migrants (‘dayo‟) come to our village to cut trees for charcoal production. They are destroyers.‟ • „Landless people have no choice but to search the forests and burn and produce charcoal. Those who still have land do not have to seek work elsewhere‟ • „Farming keeps mothers from leaving their homes. They can keep households “whole”, unlike the women who have to leave home.‟
  • 11. 11 Resettlement areas are sites of resettled, but insecure mobile subjects • • • • • „If we were given work here (resettlement site), we will not go to work elsewhere.‟ „From our resettlement area, we walk to our former lands by the river to fish.‟ „We stay on the lands the river has left us to plant watermelons and vegetables. We rush home when it begins to rain‟ „We have more expenses now because we have to travel more frequently, from home to our fields by the river.‟ „Those who lost their land have to move and find work near and far.‟
  • 12. 12 Mobility also marks gendered-differentiated responses to flood disasters • „It is the women and children who evacuate, while the men stay behind to protect their home and belongings.‟ • „When there is no man in the family, we just have to abandon our home and evacuate when a flood comes.‟ • „When the floods came, I stayed behind to protect and watch over my husband‟s motorbike. He would be furious if I let anything happen to it.‟
  • 13. 13 Institutional adaptive responses and planned disaster recovery are also mobility-defined  new ‘languages’ of DRR, resilience building and adaptation: • • • • • • • Bio-intensive gardening Women zero-plastic campaigns Wood carving and sewing Hazards mapping for disaster preparedness Reinforce the aspiration for fixity and immobility by Re-traditionalizing gender roles that emphasize in-place livelihoods and assign tasks for disaster preparedness. No program addresses people’s actual mobilities in the context of current farm and non farm livelihoods. Existing livelihoods placement programs (e.g., Employment & Services Office in local governments) have few resources and clout
  • 14. 14 Changing livelihoods: Immobile but advantaged women and mobile but insecure men Ester: The disaster brought me a home. We used to only live with my mother. Today, I stay home and find it better than working in Manila as a domestic helper. We are also safe here from the river. Ariel: became a footloose farmworker in nearby villages or as a worker in local construction sites receiving a daily wage of 150 pesos (US$ 3). He says, “I am now „paekstra-ekstra‟ (a flexible and insecure job worker). Despite my difficulties at finding a secure livelihood, however, I now have a house of my own in the resettlement site. In the past, I used to live only with relatives.”
  • 15. 15 To conclude Mobility in feminist political ecology of disaster and livelihoods research: 1. • A paradigm of mobility offers a way out of oversimplification: it complicates earlier • • • • notions of place-based gender-specific risks and disaster response in the gender, disaster and climate change literature Considers mobility as everyday occurrence not only disaster-driven: mobility for multiple livelihoods that respond to political economy/ecology challenges and opportunities; Mobility as a reflection of people’s accumulated fears and living with insecurity where nature is perceived to acquire its own agency (and mobility) Mobility and immobility mark changing subjectivities, stratifications, relative degrees of resilience and stability, insecurity and fragility, and are themselves not definitive, blackor-white categories that define gendered subjectivities : a ‘contextualized phenomenon’ Mobility is a blind spot in institutional resilience and adaptation programming that are produced by knowledge/power regimes
  • 16. 16 2. Re-thinking gender in livelihoods, disaster, and agrarian transformations • Compels us to go beyond easy and disembedded notions of gender- specific impacts where women are often claimed as immediately disadvantaged and vulnerable, sidestepping other subjects of vulnerability • The REINA case seems to point to the contrary: left-behind, immobile women – as domestic workers, as wives of fishers and farmers on fragile lands, or stay-at-home wives – benefit from fixity in the face of increasing fluidity and movement compelled by living with disasters and the rise of insecure livelihoods. Men, on the other hand are more mobile, who face multiple but insecure livelihoods. • Challenges the positivist framing of climate change and disaster discourses that departs from asking what floods and disasters do to women and men in the disaster literature, but • instead views disaster as a meaning-making event, considering how gendered subjects feel about and reflect on complex spatial, resource and material realignments that disasters bring, and on the ways that these may constrain or enable positive change both in the present and future.
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