Green jobs

New services help Vanuatu recover from Cyclone Pam

As world leaders discuss climate change in Paris, the ILO is helping Vanuatu to rebuild stronger and greener to better prepare for future storms.

Feature | Vanuatu | 01 December 2015
VANUATU (ILO News) – Frank Garae lost his job the day after a Category 5 cyclone struck Vanuatu. The 39-year-old was working in an international five-star resort in Port Vila, the capital and largest city of Vanuatu.

Severe category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam, which hit on 13 March 2015, caused the worst natural disaster in the history of Vanuatu. The storm brought widespread damage, and resulted in the deaths of about 15 people on the tiny South Pacific island nation.

Employment Services Vanuatu (ESV)
According to ILO analysis, Cyclone Pam affected (directly and indirectly) the livelihoods of about 40,800 households, or 195,000 people – more than half of the country’s population of about 250,000. The damage focused on four of the country’s six provinces, where a total of 504,050 work days and 1.6 billion Vanuatu vatu (Vt) (USD 15 million) of personal income were lost.

But, less than three months after the Cyclone, the Government of Vanuatu, with the ILO’s technical assistance and support, launched Employment Services Vanuatu (ESV).

ESV provides services to formal sector employees who are looking for new jobs because of Cyclone Pam, and unemployed young people who want career counselling, training and jobs. The help on offer includes registration, career counselling, training, referrals and job placements.

Garae was the first person to register at the ESV.
On 8 June 2015, day one of registration, an hour before the doors opened, Garae was waiting outside ESV, eager to get in and use the services on offer.

“I saw it on the news and said to myself I need to take the initiative and go get registered. Two days later I received a call from the Melanesian Hotel and asked to come for an interview and a few days later I received the good news that I was their new Barman,” said Garae.

Better response to future storms

Launched by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions (VCTU) and the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce & Industry (VCCI), ESV is one of three ILO programmes in Vanuatu established to not only respond to the Cyclone Pam disaster but also to build up local capacity and institutions to allow them to respond better to future disasters.

Young people coming to register at the ESV.
The other two major programmes are Labour Based Technology (LBT) for Road Construction and Maintenance, and Support and Capacity Building of Workers.

Mr Satoshi Sasaki, the Officer-in-Charge of the ILO Office for the Pacific Island Countries, said the cyclone response initiative was developed using the findings of an ILO-supported assessment on Employment, Livelihoods and Social Protection (ELSP), which was part of the Vanuatu Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), led by the Government of Vanuatu with support from the World Bank, European Union and United Nations.

“I am very happy to see that the process is working and government has taken the initiative to further resource and support it,” said Sasaki.

To date, 145 people (50 men and 95 women) who were affected by Cyclone Pam have registered, as well as 861 unemployed young people (409 men and 452 women).

According to Lionel Kaluat, the Commissioner of Labour, nine private companies and one NGO have already approached ESV, looking to fill more than 20 vacancies. Around 120 job-seekers have been referred for consideration.

“After three months out of a job and no income, I am very happy to get back into the workforce and start earning income to support my family”, said Garae, who has two secondary school-age children.

Garae is now back in full time employment.
Three months into his new job, Garae has been using his previous experience at an internationally owned and operated hotel to improve the services for guests in his new locally owned and operated hotel. “I have developed a brand new exciting cocktail menu, which has seen more patrons visit the Oasis Bar. Soon, for the first time in this hotel, we will have a mocktail and shots menu”.