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Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines

Haiyan survivors see hope in long-term employment

Restoring livelihoods is a priority for workers affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on 8 November killing thousands of people and leaving millions homeless and jobless. As the recovery gathers pace, people are looking for sustainable sources of income to support themselves and their families.

Feature | 20 December 2013
ORMOC CITY (ILO News) – Armed with her resumé and hoping for a new start, Jenecis Soliva patiently stands in the queue waiting for her turn to submit her employment documents.

Soliva is among the 5.9 million workers that were severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan (also known locally as Yolanda).

“I am determined to get back on my feet as soon as possible, since I need to feed a family of nine,” she explained.

Today, Soliva is in Ormoc City, one of the places affected by the super typhoon. She is attending a job fair organized by the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) together with local employers and recruitment agencies.

“My family owns agricultural land in San Jose, Ormoc City, but the entire land was wiped out by the typhoon. We’ve relied on relief goods for a month, now I really need to find a job, with a stable and reliable income,” she explained.

Supporting local employment

Out of the more than 1700 people who attended the two-day job fair in Ormoc City, 171 were hired on the spot. Another 970 were considered as qualified, but their applications need to be processed further.

“Due to the clamour of the people in the region, we will hold another job fair in Tacloban in the first week of January 2014,” said DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, who was present at the Ormoc City job fair.

“There has been a lot of focus on rebuilding livelihoods for farmers and fishers. However, half of the workers affected by the typhoon were working in the service sector,” said ILO team leader Frances Fierst, who was supporting DOLE's job fair.

About 3 million affected workers were working in the service sector when the typhoon struck. Over one third of them, or roughly 1.9 million workers, were in agriculture, and around 16 per cent in the industry sector.

“This job fair is a great way for the government to reach out and assist this specific group of affected workers,” added Fierst.

In addition to local employment opportunities, POEA provided useful information about the challenges of working abroad, including tips on avoiding illegal recruiters and traffickers.

True, the disaster has brought death and destruction to the Philippines, but the reconstruction phase is an opportunity to build back better and ensure that people are not left vulnerable or exploited.

Meanwhile, local businesses like the Coca-Cola plant in Tacloban are doing everything in their power to resume operations. Following the typhoon, the plant immediately began distributing filtered water from its tanks and giving away products to nearby communities.

“For many of our partners, their business with us is a source of livelihood. We want to help them resume operations so that they can continue to provide for their families and recover from this tragedy,” said Juan Dominguez, Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Director of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. “Through our efforts in this area, we hope to be able to once again spur economic activity in the affected areas.”

Complementing emergency employment programmes

We could change the lives of 100,000 people by the end of 2013."
Lawrence J. Johnson, ILO Philippines
“Initiatives such as the job fair and efforts of local businesses to rebuild local employment and to restore livelihoods complement the emergency employment programmes that the ILO, together with the government, is helping to implement,” said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

Over 20,000 workers who lost their livelihoods are taking part in these programmes, rebuilding their communities while working in decent and safe conditions.

“Ensuring decent work for one person can support an entire family and boost the local economy. This means we would have changed the lives of 100,000 people by the end this year,” added Johnson.

The ILO's approach goes beyond an immediate short-term emergency employment. The programme will transition to medium-term labour-based community work, skills training and enterprise development.

From Tacloban: Rebuilding livelihoods in the wake of Haiyan's destruction

As victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan struggle to pick up the pieces, the ILO is working hand-in-hand with Philippine authorities to help the most vulnerable regain their livelihoods and build back better.