ILO’s response to Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines

In response to Super Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines on 8 November 2013 and caused devastating effects, the ILO is taking the lead role on the livelihood cluster in the coordinated United Nations response.

News | 13 November 2013
(ILO News Bangkok) On 8 November 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the Philippines causing massive devastation in central Philippines. The ILO is co-chairing the livelihoods cluster in the coordinated United Nations response to this emergency. Several teams composed of ILO staff members and engineers are traveling to the affected areas to conduct damage assessments, create emergency labour intensive employment and midterm livelihood recovery activities.

Mr. Yoshiteru Uramoto, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, echoed the concerns of the Livelihood Cluster that "The lack of income and employment will not only severely hamper post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, but also lead to further deterioration of people’s living conditions and their ability to help themselves.” Mr. Uramoto confirmed that the ILO is taking action to create emergency labour intensive employment, such as clearing debris, repairing roads and rebuilding houses, which are urgently needed and very important for the recovery process.”

As co-Chair of the Livelihood Cluster in the coordinated UN response, the ILO is committed to assisting the survivors through a three-pronged intervention by conducting:

1) assessments of damages incurred and of the loss in employment and livelihoods,
2) emergency employment intensive debris clearance and infrastructure rehabilitation, and
3) mid-term livelihood recovery activities that will not only restore incomes and revenues but also help build resilience in the devastated communities.

The ILO’s strategy is based on its successful experience in disaster response in Banda Aceh and Nias in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami Emergency in Indonesia, and elsewhere. This work is fully in line with the Cluster Approach applied by the Philippines Disaster Management System following Typhoon Washi in 2011 and Typhoon Bopha in 2012. This approach has been endorsed by the Philippines Government as the basis for livelihoods efforts, and recognized for its value in providing the survivors and affected families with immediate access to decent work and sustainable livelihoods.

“At this stage,” said Mr. Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of ILO Manila Country Office, “assessments at regional and provincial levels are underway and assessments at municipality level need to be conducted for detailed design targeting of assistance.” Labour-intensive debris clearance and rehabilitation activities will facilitate access to key social and economic infrastructure such as hospitals, shelters, local markets, energy and utility infrastructure, and roads to restore people’s livelihood activities. They can also provide immediate short-term jobs to disaster-affected community members.

In addition, mid-term livelihood recovery activities will need to be developed to revitalize local economies and generate sustainable job opportunities through entrepreneurship development, including start-up financing facilities. Ms. Thetis Mangahas, Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said that “The ILO has already allocated immediately available internal resources to reinforce the capacity of our Country Office in Manila, increase our engagement in the coordinated UN response and initiate early livelihood recovery activities.”

In the months to come, the ILO will seek to expand these activities through additional resources mobilized from development partners and develop the appropriate funding modalities for a coherent and comprehensive framework of ILO interventions.
As of 13 November, it is estimated that more than 3 million women and men have lost their source of livelihoods over a vast area in central Philippines. Of these, about 1.3 million are vulnerable workers, with nearly half of them engaged in subsistence agriculture, fishing and service sectors. Sadly, these numbers are expected to rise, as more affected areas become accessible and more reports become available.

A special briefing on “Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and ILO’s work on response and recovery” will be held in Geneva at ILO Headquarters for Geneva-based Permanent Missions to the UN on Monday, 18 November, from 15:30 to 17:00 pm (Geneva CET time).