MANILA (Feb. 17, 2014)) — “Tindog Tacloban” – which means Rise Tacloban – is a slogan you see everywhere in the streets of this city shattered by Super Typhoon Haiyan, when it barrelled across the central Philippines on November 8, 2013.
The International Labor Organization reports that 100 days after the deadly storm, known locally as Yolanda, Tacloban is slowly rising again. Power is being restored, and the sound of hammers and saws echoes from every corner as survivors turn their hastily built shelters into more solid homes.
But thousands are still living in tents, or in makeshift houses. They are even more vulnerable than before Haiyan, and rely on humanitarian aid for survival.
Almost six million workers have been affected by the typhoon. Of these, 2.6 million were already in vulnerable employment and living at or near the poverty line even before Haiyan.
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 Labour and Employment – commonly known as DOLE – with ILO support.
The two-week programmes provide not just a job, but a decent job, with a minimum salary 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.
Thanks to the money she made through the emergency employment programme, 49-year-old Tiozon has been slowly rebuilding her life. Now she is thinking of starting a small business again.
Numerous Haiyan survivors have similar stories to tell, how they lost it all to a storm surge and winds so powerful they sent ships slamming ashore.
Romeo Ellaso, a 59 year-old welder from Basey, on the nearby island of Samar, was also badly affected by the typhoon. He says he used to make enough money to take care of his family. But the storm washed away his house and his tools, leaving him both homeless and jobless.
He too joined an ILO emergency employment programme, which has provided him enough cash to feed himself and his family. For the time being, he works part-time in a small repair shop. He hopes he’ll eventually earn enough money to buy new welding tools.
Back in Tacloban, fisherman Roberto Lagu says he is slowly picking up the pieces after the storm shattered his life. But he still breaks into tears as he recalls the tragic moment when he was hit by a piece of wood and could no longer hold his 9 year-old son, whose body was washed out at sea.
The storm robbed him of his livelihood, but he has now managed to get a new boat and can go out to sea again, and provide for his family. It’s also been a great help that his cousin Roger Gona found work as part of the ILO emergency employment programme.
The ILO’s action on jobs
100 days after Haiyan, the ILO is building on years of experience to develop more emergency employment programmes in areas hit by the typhoon.
“It is very evident, every day, when you meet people in the streets that they want jobs,” says Martha Espano, one of the ILO’s project officers in Tacloban.
“We want to ensure that those people who were victimized by typhoon Haiyan are not victimized again in the recovery,” adds the ILO’s country director, Lawrence Jeff Johnson.
The call for more jobs can be heard throughout the affected areas, leaving no doubt that much still needs to be done to help victims regain the livelihoods they lost to the storm’s fury.