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Crisis within a crisis

The International Labor Organization estimates 2.2 million Filipinos were affected by Typhoon Odette as the workforce continues to reel in its aftermath since it battered several areas of the country days before Christmas last year.

“It is heart-breaking to see how Typhoon Odette has affected already vulnerable workers with limited capacity to earn, less income security, and lack of social protection,” said Hideki Kagohashi, enterprise development specialist of ILO Philippines.

“A human-centered recovery is vital, one which places decent work and sustainable livelihoods at the heart of efforts to build back better,” he added.

The ILO reported that the hardest-hit workers resided in the Western Visayas region, which saw 21 percent, or 672,000, of its labor force impacted by Odette. At least 19 percent, or 343,000 of workers disproportionately affected were from Eastern Visayas while 18 percent of workers in Central Visayas bore the brunt of the effects.

It reported that Odette left the labor market in worse shape since it hit the most vulnerable of the sector wherein 38 percent of the workers, or 839,000 women, suffered as a result. Citing data, the ILO said that before the calamity struck, 3 in 5 of the impacted women workers worked low-paying jobs in agriculture, wholesale and retail trade or domestic work.

“The typhoon devastated millions of lives and livelihoods and has dealt a huge blow to the socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the onslaught of the typhoon, the United Nations called the impact ‘a crisis within a crisis’ since the country is barely recovering from the pandemic, and currently addressing a spike in cases,” the ILO said.

While it is safe to say that the Philippines is no stranger to catastrophe and crises, our government certainly needs to do better when it comes to dealing with these situations that always affect millions among the underprivileged and vulnerable members of its population.  As most of the workers affected by Typhoon Odette were already barely scraping by, already suffering from the adverse impacts of the pandemic, the effort to restore decent work and sustainable livelihoods becomes even more urgent.

As we wait for our nation’s recovery from the pandemic and now, Typhoon Odette’s devastation, let us hope that government isn’t going to stop at relief efforts and handing dole outs but instead come up with a plan or program that can help the most affected sustainably rebuild their lives and get back on their feet.*

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May 2022
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