TACLOBAN CITY, Nov. 10 (PNA) – One year after super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit parts of the Philippines, the ILO advocates continued support for the affected communities putting decent work at the forefront of the response.

“Some aim to get back to normalcy, but it should not stop there. We should work together to empower typhoon-hit communities to build back better,” said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

Utilizing experiences gained in responding to other disasters in the Philippines, such as Typhoon Washi and Typhoon Bopha, the ILO has developed an integrated approach to disaster response. This provides immediate support to affected communities, while also developing more sustainable livelihood strategies for longer term recovery and reducing vulnerability.

“Since day one, the ILO has been providing assistance to affected communities. Emergency employment program was implemented during the initial phase of the response, which has transitioned to longer-term activities to help people improve their living and working conditions,” Johnson added.

The approach starts with emergency employment, helping to put money back into the local economy and help communities prepare for reconstruction. Through this, communities are able to repair and clean up the initial damage. While doing this, workers are provided with minimum wage, social security, health insurance, accident insurance and personal protective equipment.

“Livelihood recovery does not end in providing jobs. Survivors should be given access to safe and decent work that includes ensuring minimum wages, sound occupational safety, social security and health and accident insurance,” said Johnson.

After this initial phase, workers were engaged in repairing and reconstructing community and social infrastructure making use of local resources. Opportunities to engage in skills training and gain enterprise development support have also been put in place.

So far, the ILO has provided decent work opportunities to more than 15,000 people. This is equivalent to at least 70,000 family and community members who benefited from the ILO Haiyan response.

Some of the program participants were then offered skills training or advice to enable them to set up an enterprise or improve their employability. So far, a total of 1,564 individuals have been involved in ILO skills training projects. Training sessions covered hospitality management, carpentry and masonry and welding, among others.

While this is a positive start, there is still much more to be done in the area to ensure that sustainability is achieved and that communities truly become more resilient to future events that may occur.

The ILO continues to reach out to partners and donors to continue the programs which have been started last year.

The Governments of Norway and Japan have supported ILO activities on the ground. The International Maritime Employers’ Council has given its support during the emergency employment phase and has recently agreed to provide assistance in the next phase of the response.

According to ILO estimates, the livelihoods of nearly six million workers were lost or disrupted by Typhoon Haiyan. Of these, 2.6 million workers were already in vulnerable employment and living near or at the poverty line before the storm.

“Workers in vulnerable employment are often forced to accept or create whatever work is available – just to survive. Continued efforts to providing decent work and sustainable livelihood programmes would help in eradicating such cases in typhoon-hit communities while helping people get back on their feet,” said Johnson. (PNA)