Responding to disaster

The Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan:
Emergency employment-intensive programme that helps rebuild livelihoods

Almost six million people were affected by the typhoon that ripped through the Philippines on Friday 8 November 2013. Of these, 2.6 million women and men were already in vulnerable employment and living at or near the poverty line before Haiyan.

Much of the livelihood infrastructure, such as roads, fishing boat landing sites and field irrigation, was destroyed or blocked with debris and required urgent reconstruction or rehabilitation.

ILO teams have been on the ground since day one, supporting emergency employment and helping stricken communities build back better.

On the day Haiyan struck, Evangeline Tiozon and her family lost everything. But she has since benefited from one of the emergency employment programmes set up by the Department of Labor and Employment with ILO support. Thanks to the money she made through the emergency employment programme, Evangeline has been slowly rebuilding her life. Now she is thinking of starting a small business again.

The two-week programmes provide not just a job, but a decent job, with a minimum wage guarantee, protective gear and clothing, as well as health and social security contributions. Some of the programme participants are then offered skills training or advice to enable them to set up an enterprise.

The ILO focuses on employment opportunities to help rebuild community infrastructure. It also helps create jobs and develop skills to facilitate the construction of emergency shelters, and to extend social protection to those employed in such work, including a minimum wage and health and accident insurance.

Making the garment industry safer in Bangladesh

On 24 April 2013, 1,129 workers died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza multi-storey factory building. The ILO demonstrated its relevance and key role by responding quickly to the tragedy. The ILO supported the National Tripartite Plan of Action on fire safety and structural integrity, aimed at improving working conditions in the ready-made garment sector. Key elements are already being implemented, including building and fire safety assessments; labour inspections; and training on occupational safety and health, rehabilitation and skills. An agreement on building and fire safety in Bangladesh was developed with over 30 apparel brands, and 200 factories have been inspected. The ILO is the neutral chair of an “Accord” between more than 150 international brands and retailers with suppliers in Bangladesh and global unions IndustriALL and UNI Global, which covers 1,639 of the 3,498 Bangladesh factories making garments for export.