ILO’s Decent Work Program in 4 regions affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

International Labor Organization unveils results of Decent Work Program provides livelihood for 30,000 worker-beneficiaries across four affected regions

As part of its mandate to help people in fragile and disaster situations, the International Labor Organization announced the results of an ILO study on the impact on labor conditions and employers’ response after the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) left nearly six million workers with livelihoods destroyed or disrupted. Of these, 2.6 million were already in vulnerable types of employment before the typhoon. Most of them were in the agricultural sector.

“Catastrophic events undermine peoples’ livelihoods and create shortfalls in decent work that can lead to increased poverty, inequality and social unrest if left unaddressed,” said Jonathan Price, Consultant Technical Advisor, Emergency Employment and Livelihood Recovery for Typhoon Haiyan, International Labor Organization.

In a barangay in Coron, 60 percent of the nearby watershed, the community’s primary source of potable water, was destroyed. Another barangay’s planned level III water system and community reservoir was scrapped because post-Haiyan priorities were given to shelter and school reconstruction.

In Bohol, less than a month after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, the typhoon sent more than 40,000 Boholanos back to evacuation centers and severely set back the rehabilitation and recovery efforts of the province, including those related to shelter provision.

In Ormoc, Leyte, over 2,000 hectares of agricultural land, mainly rice paddies, with life-sustaining water, were damaged as the system’s network of canals were engulfed in mud, refuse, and other debris, resulting in inadequate water supply, which diminished the crop yield of small farmers. This translated to a loss of about PHP15 million during the first cropping season following the typhoon.

“The devastation wrought by the typhoon not only left many agricultural workers dispossessed of all their houses and material things, but more critically, they were stripped of their only source of livelihood,” added Price.

Two months after Haiyan struck, the ILO already had emergency employment programs in place in areas that were hardest hit by Haiyan. Rapid assessments of damage and job losses were made even as clearance and cleaning works had begun, and labor-based rehabilitation of community assets, infrastructure and the environment were put in motion.

“On top of our initial efforts, we wanted to enhance the knowledge and skills of community members in other kinds of livelihood including construction works, auto mechanical repair, food processing, sustainable tourism, handicraft production, and climate-smart agriculture,” explained Price, “The ILO also encouraged people to start local enterprises to boost job creation and job quality.”

As part of its Decent Work program, which aims to build back better communities, infrastructure, and agricultural livelihood, the ILO was able to help an equivalent of 76,000 family and community members rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

ILO’s Decent Work program focused on four key areas: Shelter & Water, Livelihood, Agriculture, and Livelihood & Enterprise.

ILO Decent Work Campaign 2

Under Shelter & Water, ILO helped build capacities and communities through skills training and transitional shelter in Tacloban City; they helped develop a community water system in Busuanga and Coron; and mobilized local labor to clear debris and build core shelters in the province of Bohol.

To help build communities by creating resilient livelihood, ILO worked with communities in Busuanga and Coron to teach them how to create tourism products and offer tourism-related services. In Tacloban City, residents working under the Decent Work program were taught how to repair tricycles and develop spare parts enterprises.

To help farmers and fisherfolk recover their livelihood through skills training and enterprise development in marine aquaculture in the province of Bohol, de-silting of canals in Ormoc City, developing small farm enterprises in Negros Occidental, preparing land and establishing contour farming in Ormoc City.

Under Livelihood & Enterprise, the ILO helped integrate farmers into the value chain by helping them manufacture moringa (malunggay) and turmeric powder in Northern Cebu. In Bantayan Island, the community led reconstruction and recovery through production of interlocking compressed earth blocks (ICEB), and helping communities develop a spirit of enterprise by offering business development services for micro-, small-, medium-sized enterprises.

Finally, the ILO ensured that communities would remain resilient against future disasters through a mangrove reforestation and the construction of a community bridge in Bantayan Island, improving Busuanga’s social and economic infrastructure and facilities. The town of Tanauan in Leyte, one of the hardest hit by the typhoon, underwent a rehabilitation of the Sta Elena Irrigation System, which affects the main source of income of the majority of residents.

“Addressing decent work concerns remains the cornerstone of every successful disaster recovery and reconstruction, and sustainable development program, and we remain committed to using our existing tools and decades of experience in post-disaster livelihood reconstruction,” concluded Price.

This is a press release from ILO.