100 days on, Haiyan survivors need more jobs to recover

Millions of workers have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation, many of whom were in a vulnerable situation in the first place. The ILO has been responding by providing emergency employment programmes to help restore sustainable livelihoods. Several workers talked to ILO News about how they are trying to rebuild their lives.

Audio | 14 February 2014
TRANSCRIPT: One hundred days after typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, the city of Tacloban is slowly rising again. Power is being restored. The sound of hammers echoes from every corner as survivors turn their shelters into more solid homes.

But thousands are still living in tents or in makeshift houses. They are even more vulnerable than before Haiyan. They still very much rely on humanitarian aid.

On the day Haiyan struck, Evangeline Tiozon and her family lost everything.

But she has since benefited from one of the emergency employment programmes set up by the Department of Labour and Employment- with ILO support.

Thanks to the money she made through the emergency employment programme, 49-year-old Tiozon has been slowly rebuilding her life.

“Before the tragedy of Yolanda life was OK. After Yolanda, we lost everything. Our motorcycle and engine for the fishing boat were washed away. All we had left were the clothes on our backs. I joined the emergency employment programme when the Department of Labor and Employment came to our local government barangay office. I signed up for the work to help meet our daily needs. I now want to get my shop business up and running again. I’m not wishing for anything bigger than what we had before. Starting small is fine with us.”

Many Haiyan survivors have similar stories. Many lost it all to a storm surge and winds so powerful they sent ships slamming ashore.

Romeo Ellaso, a 59 year-old welder who lost his house and his tools, leaving him both homeless and jobless.

He too joined an ILO emergency employment programme. It has provided him enough cash to feed himself and his family.

“Before Typhoon Yolanda came I had a welding machine but unfortunately it was washed away during the typhoon. After the typhoon I no longer had my machine. I’m still looking for a job. Being a part of the emergency employment programme of the International Labour Organization and the Department of Labor and Employment, was a great help.”

Almost six million workers have been affected by the typhoon. Of these, 2.6 million were already in vulnerable employment and living at or near the poverty line even before Haiyan. So the need for jobs is a priority, explains the ILO’s country director Lawrence Jeff Johnson.

“Most of these people have lost everything. If they were petty traders, they lost their stores, they lost their materials. Farmers lost all their crops and even their ploughs, etc. So what we do through emergency employment is work to allow them to basically help rebuild their lives and we do it in a safe manner. We want to ensure that these individuals who were victimized by Typhoon Yolanda are not victimized again in the recovery. So in addition to ensuring minimum wage, we ensure social protection, occupational safety and health are at the forefront. Also ensuring social protection through PhilHealth and Social Security is also provided."

The call for more jobs can be heard throughout the affected areas, leaving no doubt that much still needs to be done to help victims regain the livelihoods they lost to the storm.
Jean-Luc Martinage – ILO News