With about 1.5 million inhabitants, the city of Davao is the largest city on the group of islands that comprise Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Southern Mindanao is an important economic centre: there are gold mines nearby and the area produces a considerable amount of fruit. However, it is also a particularly conflict-affected region, where decades of fighting have marked the lives of many. The island is also prone to climate change-related disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. As a result, hundreds of thousands are forced to leave their homes and living in vulnerable situations.
Since 1981, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Davao.
In Davao City, there is a growing number of people living in poverty slums. An estimated 14% of families in the Davao Region live in poverty. Thousands of people commute daily in order to work or do business in the city. Other regions of the island continue to have high poverty rates and this pushes people to migrate to the city of Davao, in search of a brighter future for themselves and their families.
However, the majority of the people who come to the city in search of a better life end up living in slums. They live in improvised housing with dirt floors, no clean water and no sewage system. Access to other services such as education and healthcare is also lacking.
Many people in Mindanao, where Davao is located, have been displaced by conflict and natural disasters. As of May 2022, armed conflict has forced119,000 people to leave their homes. Due to the region’s geographic location, it is also prone to natural disasters. In November 2019, earthquakes in Davao displaced 13,600 people. When homes were destroyed, it is challenging for families to recover.
The displacement that accompanies disasters often puts women and girls at high risk of gender-based violence. Reducing poverty and strengthening vulnerable communities will increase their capacity to adapt to climate related disasters.