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Philippines; NGO; community; disaster management. The Philippines is very vulnerable to natural disasters because of its natural setting, as well as its socio-economic, political and environmental context - especially its widespread poverty. The Philippines has a well-established institutional and legal framework for disaster management, including built-in mechanisms for participation of the people and NGOs in decision-making and programme implementation. The nature and extent of collaboration with government in disaster preparedness and mitigation issues varies greatly according to their roots, either in past confrontation and political struggles or traditional charity activities. The growing NGO involvement in disaster management has been influenced by this history. Some agencies work well with local government and there is an increasing trend for collaborative work in disaster mitigation and preparedness. Some NGOs, however, retain critical positions. These organisations tend to engage more in advocacy and legal support for communities facing increased risk because of development projects and environmental destruction. Entry points into disaster mitigation and preparedness vary as well. Development-oriented agencies are drawn into these issues when the community members with whom they work face disaster. Relief organisations, too, realise the need for community mobilisation, and are thus drawn towards development roles. Keywords:

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climate change; disaster management; social capital

Community-based disaster preparedness (CBDP) approaches are increasingly important elements of vulnerability reduction and disaster management strategies. They are associated with a policy trend that values the knowledge and capacities of local people and builds on local resources, including social capital. CBDP may be instrumental not only in formulating local coping and adaptation strategies, but also in situating them within wider development planning and debates. In theory, local people can be mobilised to resist unsustainable (vulnerability increasing) forms of development or livelihood practices and to raise local concerns more effectively with political representatives. This paper focuses on the potential of CBDP initiatives to alleviate vulnerability in the context of climate change, and their limitations. It presents evidence from the Philippines that, in the limited forms in which they are currently employed, CBDP initiatives have the potential both to empower and disempower, and warns against treating CBDP as a panacea to disaster management problems.