ILO helps provide ’emergency’ jobs in Haiyan-hit areas

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The United Nations agency will assist in giving short-term employment opportunities to typhoon victims

STARTING FROM SCRATCH. Typhoon Yolanda damaged billions worth of agriculture and infrastructure, forcing many communities to start from scratch. Photo by EPA/Dennis Sabangan

MANILA, Philippines – The International Labor Organization (ILO) is helping government provide emergency employment to millions of people who lost their livelihoods to Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). (READ: Coconut farmers face ruin after Haiyan)

“Emergency employment essentially puts money in the hands of individuals affected,” explained Jeff Johnson, director of the ILO Philippine Office.

“We know that 2.2 million were vulnerably employed – that’s equivalent to the city of Chicago – so we put cash in their hands right away.”

Fishermen are among the most affected sectors in Yolanda-hit localities. Many can no longer venture out to sea because the typhoon either washed away or destroyed their boats.

Roberto Lagu, a 48-year-old fisherman whose fishing village was decimated by the typhoon, grieved not only for his livelihood but also for his son.

“My son was in my arms when Typhoon Yolanda hit our home. He was lost because of the big waves. I could not get him back. He died. My boat was wrecked. I am entirely dependent on the sea so now I have no source of income. I have no way to get an income,” he told ILO.

ILO has had experience helping fishing villages get back on their feet. After Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) wiped out many fishing villages in Mindanao, the United Nations agency helped fishermen in a town near Iligan City learn alternative fishing techniques and provided them with new equipment.

While fishing and agriculture in Yolanda-ravaged areas remain crippled, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said victims can make use of their skills in rebuilding damaged infrastructure.

“This is an opportunity for people to build certain skills, like carpentry for instance, to rebuild houses that were washed out, masonry, electricity to set about those things in the houses and residences that will be set up,” said Exequiel Sarcauga, regional director of the DOLE in Eastern Visayas. 

But the measure is only for the short term. Much still needs to be done to provide victims with sustainable livelihood opportunities that can help them return to normalcy.

“Hopefully this will be supported later on as we move alone, because this is only very short-term, just to give them enough to sustain them in the meantime. We have to think about the options like giving them sustainable livelihood assistance,” said Sarcauga.

Yolanda’s freakishly strong winds and heavy rain affected 44 provinces and left at least 5,235 people dead, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s latest report. It damaged P24.5 billion worth of infrastructure and agriculture.  –

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