From marginality to further marginalization: experiences from the victims of the July 2000 Payatas trashslide in the Philippines

15 August 2013

Victims of disasters are disproportionately drawn from the marginalized segments of society. Disaster victims are marginalized geographically because they live in hazardous places, socially because they are members of minority groups, economically because they are poor, and marginalized politically because their voice is disregarded by those with political power. #e victims of the July 2000 Payatas trash slide in the Philippines show all these characteristics. Most of the victims of the disaster were urban migrants who came all the way from their poor provinces to settle on the lower slopes of the largest dumpsite of the country. #ey scavenged recyclable materials to sell as a way to make a living, but their limited incomes did not allow them to a$ord safer locations for their homes, farther removed from the slopes of the dumpsite. On the morning of 10 July 2000, 300 of them lost their lives when a large section of the dumpsite collapsed in a massive debris %ow which buried their houses. In the aftermath of the disaster, the survivors who used to live on the dumpsite, and who were the poorest victims, were also those who were relocated by the Philippine government. In the present case, the most vulnerable families in the face of the trash slide were eventually those who had to su#er again from life-disrupting relocation while being the less able to recover quickly from the disaster. Daily incomes of relocated families are today much lower than those who remained in the vicinity of the dumpsite. For the victims of the July 2000 Payatas tragedy, poverty thus acted as a vicious, worsening circle which ranged from vulnerability to poor recovery, or from marginality to further marginalization.