Integrating contingency plans and post-disaster needs assessments to build more resilient labour markets

ILO virtual workshop provides Caribbean constituents with practical training for crisis preparedness and response

News | 29 June 2021
Despite their small carbon footprints, Caribbean countries - including their workforces - are highly vulnerable to the dangers of climate change. While regional disaster risk management (DRM) mostly focuses on protecting lives and physical assets, it typically does not plan for preventing enterprises from going out of business and people from losing their jobs.

Among the major lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 is that the constituents did not have the necessary tools to mainstream livelihood-centred recovery responses, nor to run, or actively participate in Post Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNAs). International Labour Organization (ILO) interventions after the crisis demonstrated that there is an urgent need to support capacity strengthening and institutional reform if resilience goals are to be fully realized.

“When we conduct a post-disaster needs assessment, very often our labour market colleagues are not at the table or are on the periphery. We want them more at the centre,” said Dr Asha Kambon, an ILO consultant and expert on disaster management.

To support the development of more comprehensive Caribbean DRM that mitigates threats to labour productivity and jobs, the ILO Caribbean Office, recently designed and delivered an online training on integrated labour market contingency plans (LCMPs) and PDNAs for employment and livelihoods, within the framework of its Caribbean Resilience Project. The virtual course, led by Dr Kambon, took place from 21 to 25 June and included government officials, employers’ organizations, trade unions and other stakeholders from beneficiary countries Dominica, Guyana and Saint Lucia.

“This week of workshops is an opportunity to learn how we can make our labour markets and social protection systems shock-responsive. Before there is a crisis we need to know what to do, how to act and which mechanisms to use to ensure we are more resilient to disasters,” stated Ariel Pino, ILO Caribbean Specialist for Social Protection and Occupational Safety and Health during the opening session. “Governments can be ready with policies that ensure people have access to decent work and social security to lower the risk of poverty in the event of a disaster. It is also important that we look at the employers’ and workers’ side and assess how a shock can affect them and how they can be ready to operate by considering aspects such as occupational safety and health in emergency preparedness and response plans.”

Featured course topics included an Introduction to Post Disaster Needs Assessment and Recovery; Overview of the Labour Market Contingency Plan; Overview of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment Methodology; the Crosscutting issue of Employment and Livelihoods; and the ILO’s Role in Disaster Settings. The sessions provided participants with the tools, templates and techniques they need to anticipate impact and identify approaches for mitigation. It also trained them in how to understand and use LMCPs and PDNAs with a particular emphasis on the Employment, Livelihoods and Social Protection Sector (ELSP).

“Disaster preparedness is essential for an effective recovery. It must happen at all levels and requires that national and local institutions of work and individuals have the capacities and knowledge to anticipate impacts and identify approaches to mitigation to minimize loss,” said Resel Melville, ILO Caribbean Project Officer. “The lack of labour market contingency planning leaves important gaps in overall recovery endeavours. The promotion of decent work – through strong labour market institutions and social partners – is a key instrument for building resilient societies.”

The virtual training included four main objectives:
  1. to provide an orientation in the conduct of PDNA and equip participants with the necessary information to participate in assessments at the national level;
  2. to familiarize participants with the use of a contingency planning as part of their tool kit for post disaster recovery;
  3. to strengthen capacity which will allow participation and full engagement in the recovery processes which form part of the PDNA, with regard to labour and livelihoods; and
  4. to provide an understanding of how labour actors can intervene in the PDNA process.
“Recovery is something we need to think about before the event hits. When we undertake an assessment, the purpose of estimating the value of the effects and the possibilities of impacts is to determine plans for recovery. A labour market contingency plan is a tool that can be used to build resilience of disaster-affected and vulnerable populations through a job-rich and inclusive process,” explained Dr Kambon.

Through the course, participants – many of whom are policymakers – gained a stronger understanding of the value of the PDNA and LCMP processes in building job market resilience. They are now better prepared to assert the relevance of livelihoods and employment in disaster planning and recovery.

The ILO is committed to continue working with constituents and partners across the Caribbean to strengthen the integration of labour and decent work issues in regional and national disaster risk management.

For more information about the training and to access the course materials, visit: https://www.ilo.org/caribbean/events-and-meetings/WCMS_794097/lang--en/index.htm