Home > News > Research Report: Faith and Resilience After Disaster

Misean Cara is pleased to share its latest Research Report: Faith and Resilience After Disaster. The Case of Typhoon Haiyan. Research was commissioned as resilience was identified as a key interest area for Misean Cara. Resilience “is the ability of countries, communities and households to manage change, by maintaining or transforming living standards in the face of shocks or stresses – such as earthquakes, drought or violent conflict – without compromising their long-term prospects.” Research was initiated by Misean Cara to understand the role of faith in building post-disaster resilience and how this affected beneficiary perceptions of the assistance they received following Typhoon Haiyan. The research was led by Trinity College Researcher, PHD Candidate Olivia Wilkinson.

While international actors increasingly focus on building people’s resilience to disaster, the role of cultural and spiritual capital in resilience is seldom mentioned. As faith is an important component of most people’s lives, this aspect is sorely missing from the debate. While acknowledging that some issues associated with faith, such as maintenance of the status quo, may negatively impact resilience, this report explores aspects of a faith-based approach to development that contribute to building resilience in the aftermath of disasters.

The report explores the role of faith in building resilience in the context of the response to Super Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), which made landfall in the Philippines on 8 November 2013, affecting 14 million people, including over 6000 deaths and over 4 million displaced. The report is concerned with the experiences and perspectives of populations affected by the typhoon. The research findings reveal differences in local people’s perceptions of different types of humanitarian organisations. They also reveal some key learning from the faith-based approach to humanitarian relief that could enhance intervention methodologies of secular organisations working in post-disaster settings, particularly those working in contexts with largely religious populations.

The results are based on primary research conducted with affected populations in the Philippines and cover three areas. Firstly, they report the areas of assistance that research participants from affected populations identified as important for their resilience (“Activities that have added most to resilience”). This includes a range of assistance from immediate relief, such as food packs, to longer-term activities like shelter construction. The next section deals with the specific role of faith in building personal, family and community resilience following the typhoon (“The role of faith in resilience to typhoons”). The final section then investigates how organisations responding to the disaster impact resilience, particularly regarding how faith affects perceptions of different organisations (“Perceptions of faith-based assistance for resilience to typhoons”).

Results show that people’s faith can be inextricably woven into their perceptions of resilience. The report focuses only on the Filipino case following Typhoon Haiyan. Its relevance, however, is broadened by discussion of the delineation between faith-based and secular humanitarianism and by the challenge it poses to a narrow, purely technological view of resilience. Resilience is not limited to material, technological and economic concerns, but also includes cultural and faith-based components. If organisations want resilience programmes to be truly relevant and appropriate to the local context, these issues should be taken into account.

Click here to read the full Research Report Findings and Recommendations.