Philippines disaster response

Helping rebuild livelihoods in disaster-hit Philippines

An ILO project to help disaster victims gain sustainable livelihoods goes a long way towards rebuilding shattered lives. The ILO plans to replicate it in areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Audio | 19 November 2013
TRANSCRIPT:  As the international community rallies to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan’s fury, 13 million people in other parts of the Philippines are still trying to rebuild their lives shattered by earlier disasters in this densely populated southeast Asian nation.

Maico Medel lost his father and his livelihood to Tropical Storm Washi when it slammed onto the island of Mindanao in December 2011. Now, the 20-year-old says he is building a better future for himself and his family with the help of a project the ILO hopes to replicate in areas hard hit by Typhoon Haiyan.

As he mixed cement used in rebuilding a wall around an Iligan City High School, he said the skills he acquired through the ILO project were a huge help, as he is now the family’s sole breadwinner.

“This programme is a big help for us. I really feel grateful, I thank the Lord Jesus.
This job helps me. It helps to buy food, to send my siblings to school so they can finish their education. And for me to lift them out of poverty.”

More than 3,000 of Washi’s most vulnerable victims have benefitted from the programme, financed by the Australian aid agency AusAid. The idea is to provide emergency employment as soon as possible after disaster strikes, and eventually transition into helping build sustainable livelihoods. This provides beneficiaries with cash when they most need it and contributes to the reconstruction of houses and basic infrastructure.

And a key element is the social protection the workers receive.

Forty one-year-old Jairus Retardo, who has had polio since the age of one, says the benefits are crucial for him.

“I used to do whatever work, even without health insurance, in order to survive. At the time I could not even dream of getting sick. Now I see the health insurance as a preventive measure, to help save money, for protection even though I don’t get sick. This is like a gift for me, because health is wealth.”

Hundreds of kilometres away, ILO teams are surveying the areas worst-hit by Typhoon Haiyan, so that a similar emergency employment programme can be launched.

Honorio Palarca, who runs the ILO’s Washi recovery project said there is no doubt similar measures will be of great help in Tacloban and other areas devastated by Haiyan.

“In this kind of situation there is a big demand for reconstruction and repair like in Haiyan, for instance, and a lot of people are looking for jobs. This can be replicated.”

And it should go a long way towards rebuilding homes, communities and lives.

Patrick Moser in Iligan City,  for the ILO