“How to Feed Our Families” in the Philippines by Mary Racelis, Ateneo de Manila University

“How to Feed Our Families” in the Philippines by Mary Racelis, Ateneo de Manila University

Your query on evolving new space uses in these stay-home situations certainly applies here in the Philippines although in significantly different ways. Government in its usual top-down fashion has dropped a strong surveillance system down on communities. While few debate the need for a well-organized governance response, the protests in the urban poor informal settlements where I work arise out of inadequate preparations before the lockdown decision.  Not only did that deprive the authorities of the potential strengths of communities to develop collaborative protective systems onsite; the lack of consultation also sidelined the serious impact of the shutdown on daily earners in informal economies leading to massive income and job losses. Their message, as our article shown below emphasizes, is that while attention to COVID-19 issues is understandable, “Our crucial problem right now is how to feed our families!”

My main concern, therefore, since I work mainly with urban poor informal settler communities, has been to clarify to policymakers and the reading public how health initiatives have to recognize realities on the ground and listen to the people affected. In addition to the consequences of income and job losses and in terms of space uses, how does a family of 8-10 in a 20 sqm shack practice social distancing? How do 26,000 poor families squeezed into a high density land area of 52 hectares stay one meter apart in the few open spaces when they are outside?

You may be interested in an article that Rappler.Com just posted where I interviewed a community leader in an informal settlement on Manila Bay about his local experiences.

https://www.rappler.com/move-ph/ispeak/256081-opinion-coronavirus-baseco-community-leader-assessment [rappler.com]

Prof Mary Racelis

Research Scientist, Institute of Philippine Culture

Professorial lectuer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

School of Social Sciences

Ateneo de Manila University

Quezon City, Metro Manila




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