Small-island communities in the Philippines prefer local measures to relocation in response to sea-level rise

Ma. Laurice Jamero, Motoharu Onuki, Miguel Esteban, Xyza Kristina Billones-Sensano, Nicholson Tan, Angelie Nellas, Hiroshi Takagi, Nguyen Danh Thao & Ven Paolo Valenzuela
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Most adaptation studies suggest that sea-level rise will lead to relocation as flooding worsens. Here we identified and evaluated potential adaptation strategies for adapting to sea-level rise, based on the experiences of four low-lying island communities in central Philippines that have experienced flooding during normal high tides since a 2013 earthquake that induced land subsidence. Coastal surveys, interviews and household questionnaires showed that island residents generally prefer in situ adaptation strategies rather than relocation to the mainland. These results are unexpected, particularly because a relocation programme has been developed by authorities on the mainland. Direct measurements during a flooding event indicate stilted housing as the most effective type of adaptation strategy. Many households have also raised their floors using coral stones, although this might inadvertently increase their vulnerability to typhoons and storm surges in the long-term.