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Empower the disadvantaged community through participatory photography to reveal unheard vulnerability and form adaptation capacity.



This research is the first participatory photography exploration to collect new ethnographic data and generate innovative community-based strategies for coastal disaster risk reduction and adaption in Asia. Beyond conventional Photovoice approach, the research team aspires to develop a visual communicative network for interactive disaster management. According to the 2011 World Risk Report, the Philippines with a 24.32% disaster risk has the third highest disaster risk in the world. Siquijor province in the Central Philippines is an island province largely relying on tourism and fishery with typical island environment and politics. Especially in the past two years, Siquijor has faced frequent and devastating typhoons and raging floods, which have killed thousands and destroyed millions of homes and economic sources as well as vital marine habitats. Facing disasters, the vulnerable, such as women, whose voices are largely absent in academia and decision making, are exposed to higher risks. This project aims to conduct just and resilient disaster management for Central Philippines through an empowering Photovoice approach. It provides disadvantaged community members with digital cameras and fundamental training, facilitates them to cultivate narratives and communicative networks, and encourages efficient mechanisms development. Through this exploration, local participants will be able to photograph the vulnerabilities, risks, social relations, and governance of adaptation utilizing local knowledge and resources. Creative disaster strategies and collaborative governance will be generated democratically which can be applied beyond the research region. This project will be a pioneering model for visual adaptation in a much larger scale, such as the Asia-Pacific region.

Category of the action


What actions do you propose?

This research exhibits lives and experiences of local communities including fishermen/fisherwomen, nonprofit organizations, local governments, international organizations, and the private sectors for disaster adaptation through the lens of the vulnerable in Siquijor, coastal Central Philippines. It is based on a one-year participatory photography (referred to as Photovoice) including narrative development, participant observations, in-depth interviews, photography exhibition, policymaking recommendation, communicative network building, and reflection and visioning period. Photographs will demonstrate vividly the vulnerabilities and opportunities throughout disaster preparedness, mitigation, and recovery. Communicative network will be constructed for community photograph demonstration as well as policymaking campaign. This Photovoice project presents a creative and comprehensive ethnographic account of local disaster adaptation and governance of justice and resilience in Siquijor, with the potential for broader application. 

Who will take these actions?

We will train and supervise 16-20 local villagers from 2 villages in Siquijor, some of whom have not been able to write, but who will visually and orally articulate and advocate local climate adaptation and the disappearing traditional cultural practices. The empowering strength that Photovoice generates has inspired me to apply it to additional locations and affected people groups. For this proposed research, we will closely collaborate with Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation Inc. (CCEF), a non-profit organization based in Cebu, the Central Philippines, which leads the sustainable campaigns of coastal marine habitats with local governments and local communities. CCEF has applied and conducted a variety of participatory programs including participatory photography in the Philippines for the conservation of Coral Triangle. Other potential collaborative partners will include Consuelo Foundation, the Center for Disaster Preparedness, Citizens’ Disaster Response Center, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council. Through a participatory lens to analyze various actors in disaster adaptation and governance, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of the underrepresented vulnerability, value, and local knowledge of disadvantaged communities facing unpredictable coastal hazards. 

Where will these actions be taken?

Since 2011, typhoons have struck the Central Philippines in a highly unusual occurrence. As a result, this coastal hazard has led to devastation of coral reefs. Coral reefs provide food, livelihood and income from tourism revenues to Filipinos. It is estimated that more than a million small-scale fishers are dependent on reef fisheries for their livelihood. The research target region is Siquijor, an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region, which has been devastatingly affected by coastal hazards.  Coastal community members who largely rely on fisheries face vital challenges regarding their safety, economic income, living conditions, and social structure. Among these affected community members, the disadvantaged ones, such as women, have more significantly suffered from the impacts of the coastal hazards while their perspectives regarding adaptation have been seldom explored thoroughly. 

What are other key benefits?

Photovoice exploration offers a communicative tool for disadvantaged participants. During this process, community members produce 1) grounded photographs of marine habitats, social relations, hazard processes, and local adaptation with cultural diversity; 2) open dialogues cultivated by the visual information; and 3) the action plans of the visual and communicative platforms. In this way, this project collects new ethnographic data and generates just and resilient community-based strategies for disaster risk reduction and adaptation to coastal hazards. It enhances awareness and promotes:

  • democratic disaster adaptation and governance, with emphasis on gender equality;
  • artistic creativity in all its forms for all people, while respecting freedom of expression;
  • underrepresented value, culture, and knowledge on disaster adaptation mechanisms;
  • disaster conflict resolution, peace-making, social stability and cultural diversity;
  • collaborative governance for community resilience building.

What are the proposal’s costs?

  1. Salaries of project staff: 16000 USD
  2. Travel and per diem: 8000 USD
  3. Equipment and supplies: 6000 USD
  4. Vehicle rental: 3000 USD
  5. Communication: 1000 USD
  6. Promotional activities: 1000 USD
  7. Translators, interpreters: 2000 USD
  8. Rental of conference/seminar rooms: 2000 USD
  9. Publications: 1000 USD

Total: 40000 USD


Time line

  1. Visit partnering NGOs and potential collaborating communities: Aug 2013
  2. Finalize implementation mechanisms and announce project briefing and participation recruitment: Sep 2013
  3. Select and recruit 8-10 participants from each of two communities: Oct 2013
  4. Host training and establish social media campaign: Nov 2013
  5. Facilitate photography collection and narrative development: Dec 2013-Apr 2014
  6. Plan and form sharing events: May 2014
  7. Conduct in-depth interviews: Jun 2014
  8. Host photography exhibitions and policy recommendation workshops: Jul-Aug 2014
  9. Compose project report and share findings with stakeholders: Sep 2014

Related proposals


Baldwin, C., & Chandler, L. (2010). "At the water's edge"? community voices on climate change. Local Environment, 15(7), 637-649.

Berrang-Ford, L., Dingle, K., Ford, J. D., Lee, C., Lwasa, S., Namanya, D. B., et al. (2012). Vulnerability of indigenous health to climate change: A case study of Uganda's Batwa Pygmies. Social Science & Medicine, 75(6), 1067-1077.

Brydon-Miller, M., Greenwood, D., & Maguire, P. (2003). Why action research? Action Research, 1(1), 9-28.

Greenwood, D. J., Whyte, W. F., & Harkavy, I. (1993). Participatory action research as a process and as a goal. Human Relations, 46(2), 175-192.

Healey, G. K., Magner, K. M., Ritter, R., Kamookak, R., Aningmiuq, A., Issaluk, B., et al. (2011). Community perspectives on the impact of climate change on health in Nunavut, Canada. Arctic, 89-97.

Wang, C., & Burris, M. A. (1997). Photovoice: Concept, methodology, and use for participatory needs assessment. Health Education & Behavior, 24(3), 369-387.

Wang, C. (2006). Youth participation in photovoice as a strategy for community change. Journal of Community Practice, 14(1-2), 147-161.