• 100,000 jobs equate to support for 500,000 people in Eastern Visayas

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    Ensuring 100,000 jobs to the people in the hardest hit areas of Leyte and Samar, which have been devastated by Typhoon Yolanda earlier this month, will provide basic support about 500,000 people in these vulnerable areas, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said.

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    The ILO’s first sectoral needs assessment published by the United Nations revealed that “rebuilding livelihoods through decent jobs in the service industry is a priority,” alongside farming and fishing.

    This statement was made as reconstruction efforts started in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.

    Simon Hills, the ILO Disaster Response and Livelihoods Development officer, said in a statement that providing sustainable amd decent work can help in speeding up the recovery process leading to a “multiplier effect.”

    “Ensuring jobs for 100,000 men and women that include minimum wages, sound occupational safety, skills development and social protection can change the lives of 500,000 people within 12 months, and beyond,” he said.

    “One wage-earner can support a family of five. These five people will be able to pay for services in their local area; food, medicine, water, transportation. So, the money that goes to this family through this one job will then circulate with a multiplier effect across the local economy”.

    The Philippine government, with the support of the ILO, has already set up Emergency Employment Programs  in Leyte and Samar, two of the worst hit areas.

    About 17,000 people have registered and they are ready to work by clearing roads, rehabilitating schools, cleaning hospitals and public infrastructure. Three other programs are about to start as well in Northern Cebu, Negros Occidental and Coron, Palawan.

    Workers in the Emergency Employment Program will be equipped with personal protective gear such as hats, boots, gloves, long sleeved shirts and masks.

    They will be employed for a minimum of 15 days and receive the wages and social security benefits set by national law, the ILO said.

    It is critical for the government to ensure that people have money and support immediately, Hills said.

    “However, short-term employment alone is not enough. We also need to provide people with opportunities to develop skills that will enable them to have more stable and reliable sources of income and social protection, inclusive of health insurance”.

    “There have been great losses in farms and fisheries and the ILO is working closely with the FAO [UN Food and Agriculture Organization] on these.”

    Hills highlighted that half of the people who lost their livelihoods were in the services sector, with most working in transport, sari-sari stores, plumbing, cooking, cleaning and security.

    Some 2.4 million people were already in vulnerable working conditions even before the typhoon. “Many of these families run the risk of being thrust back into poverty.”

    In eastern Visayas, some 5.6 million workers lost their livelihoods, temporarily or permanently because of Typhoon Haiyan. Of this number, 2.4 million were already in vulnerable employment before the typhoon struck the Philippines.

    Fifty percent of those in vulnerable employment were working in the service industry. The ILO maintained that “ensuring a decent job for one person can support an entire family.”

    The United Nations issued a $348-million flash appeal for the victims of the typhoon but so far, only 5 percent of the $31-million livelihood budget in the said flash appeal has been funded. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON

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