Case Studies

/Employment Intensive Investment experience in a post-disaster situation in the Philippines
Case Holder:
Martha Mildred D. Españo

Employment Intensive Investment experience in a
post-disaster situation in the Philippines

Promotion of Youth Employment in Fragile Settings

Background & Context

1. This paper is about the EIIP’s experience in post-disaster situations in the Philippines.  These experiences and lessons learned are grounded in the application of EII approaches in post-disaster responses to Typhoons Washi, Bopha and Haiyan. The EII approach links infrastructure development with employment creation, poverty reduction and local economic development.

2. An average of 20 typhoons cross the country every year, and over the last five years the strength of these typhoons has intensified causing immense damage to properties and infrastructure, and heavy loss of life. Around 18 million people were affected, more than 10,000 persons died, and US$3bn-worth of damage was inflicted on the economy when typhoons Washi, Bopha and Haiyan barreled through the country in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. Typhoon Bopha hit some areas in Mindanao, where 2.5 million workers were affected, of whom 37% were women and 24% were youth. Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest so far, affected 6 million workers of whom 2.6 million were already living in vulnerable conditions even before the typhoons struck.

3. The youth, which comprised about 20% of the total population of the country, are the most likely to be affected by disasters because of multi-faceted hindrances which push them back further from attaining decent work and proper transition to adulthood.

“The scale of the destruction, and the suffering,is truly shocking.  It is already clear that relief andreconstruction needs will be enormous. Millions of people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, many of whom were already living in vulnerable, precariousconditions with little or no social protection to fall back on”. – Except from thestatement, on the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, of ILO DG Guy Ryder, Geneva, 12 Nov. 2013.


The Problem

1. A 2012 ILO study on the effects of Typhoon Washi on workers revealed that i) the formal sector recovered in 6 months, ii) the informal sector took more than 6 months to recover; and iii) the most severely affected were the urban poor, fishery workers and farmers. Workers in the informal economy, particularly from urban poor areas, along with fishery workers and farmers from rural areas, bear the brunt of disasters on top of their existing socioeconomic constraints with which they have to contend every day even in the absence of the typhoons. Women and youth in particular are among the groups highly vulnerable to disasters.

2. These typhoons have affected millions of people including their properties and livelihoods. Communities have lost vital infrastructures including both public and private assets, which leads to disruption of delivery of vital services at critical times. Ultimately the economy bore the brunt of the destruction wrought by the typhoons.

3. There was a need to provide the affected residents with immediate income opportunities, so as to reduce their vulnerability to negative coping mechanisms. Women, children and youth become highly vulnerable to gender violence and human trafficking in post-disaster situations. There was a need to support communities in their resilience and rebuilding efforts by applying climate change adaptation approaches.

4. The objective of improved rebuilding is an enormous task requiring organized and concerted actions among stakeholders, including governments, the United Nations (UN) and donor communities.

5. The challenge for the ILO was to implement an “employment-centred recovery while promoting decent work and social justice as drivers of social cohesion and the prevention of further crisis*”.



1. The EII approach in a post-disaster context links infrastructure rehabilitation with employment creation, livelihood recovery, and social protection. The EII’s local resource-based approach (LRB) emphasizes the use of local capacities, including labour, materials, and knowledge, to implement restoration of infrastructure by local community groups. This ensures optimum labour content, good productivity levels, immediate income for residents, and assistance in revitalizing the local economy.

2. The EII projects used in the case study pursued common objectives, namely: 1) assistance for affected areas through emergency employment to repair and reconstruct community assets, environmental rehabilitation, protection work, and green work; 2) implementation of labour-market-responsive technical vocational skills training to improve prospects for wage employment and self-employment; 3) implementation of longer-term interventions to rehabilitate community assets through community contracting; and 4) support for livelihoods recovery in small and medium enterprises.

3. Participation of vulnerable groups such as women, youth, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities are given priority. Women’s participation was targeted at a minimum of 50 per cent across subprojects. Social protection and personal protection equipment (PPEs) is provided in all subprojects.

4. The ultimate objective of the EII approach in post-disaster response is to promote decent work and social justice by implementing an employment-centred recovery.

Value Proposition & Activities

1. The EII post-disaster approach pursued short-term and long-term objectives. The short-term objectives addressed emergency employment activities to provide residents with immediate income through participation in rebuilding of community assets. The work required minimal or no skills for which the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are consequently ready and available to provide manpower. Ideally the interventions should be identified bearing in mind long-term perspectives.

The Activities

1. Emergency Employment: de-clogging of canals, desilting of irrigation canals, clearing of access roads, river clean-up, materials recovery, and clearance of agricultural lots.

2. Local resource-based works: a few examples of completed subprojects included seaweed farming, establishment of contour farming, rehabilitation of drainage and irrigation canals, riverbank protection, shelter construction and water supply installation.

3. Enterprise recovery: charcoal briquetting, processing of moringa and turmeric, multi-purpose drying facility, and establishment of a plant producing interlocking compressed earth blocks (ICEB).

4. Skills training: carpentry, masonry, welding, electrical installation, food processing, tour guide, beauty culture, and hotel and restaurant management.

5. Partnership with the governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and direct participation of residents in all aspects of community infrastructure development promoted a sense of ownership that led to the facility’s operation and maintenance, thereby prolonging its productive life.

Learning & results

Main results and lessons learned (social, environmental, economic):

a.) Learning

  • Working with tripartite partners is important but working with other organizations is always an option.
  • Two phases comprise EII post-disaster work:
    – short-term emergency employment, which is the easy part;
    – longer-term livelihood recovery, which needs a deliberate and systematic approach.
  • Survivors of disasters are ready to perform reconstruction work.
  • Direct involvement in all aspects of infrastructure development leads to a sense of ownership.
  • Construction and maintenance of infrastructure reinforces social protection.

b.) Results

  • Promotion of decent work
    – emergency employment
    – skills to improve employability
  • New community-based groups ready to undertake infrastructure work
  • Rebuilding of community assets to support access to basic services, improved mobility, and resumption of operation of vital social services and infrastructure:
    – disaster risk mitigation and community infrastructure improvement works;
    – community-based approaches optimizing the use of local resources used for small social and productive infrastructure repairs and reconstruction;
    – environmental rehabilitation and protection work (green works).

Complexities of working in a fragile setting

Operating under a “not-so-normal” work environment creates additional burdens and pressures for project teams endeavouring to deliver their mandate within a limited timeframe.

Among the areas of concern encountered during the various stages of project implementation were the following:

  • Coordination
  • Information management: optimizing the use of limited resources to avoid gaps and overlaps, being more responsive, and ensuring synergy of benefits and impacts
  • Need for technical guidance (planning, needs identification, implementation, monitoring and evaluation)
  • Administrative and financial procedures: timely release of subproject funds, support for field commitments, access to information
  • Need for a quick response team: Manila-based post-disaster response team ready for deployment at a moment’s notice
  • Lack of institutional support and readiness: institutional partners cannot cope with demand, i.e. social protection enrolment, monitoring
  • Lack of available partners at community level
  • Lack of available logistical support (basic accommodation, communication access, supplies and materials)


Conclusion & the future variation

The local-resource-basedapproach is effective in post-disaster response. Through community contracting, local employers, workers’ groups, community associations,and the private sector worked together to provide employment to help the affectedhouseholds manage the crisis. Through the use of skills and local resources,construction or restoration of infrastructure became cost-efficient and helpedrevitalize the local economy.

Below are recommendations from the finalevaluation of one of the projects within the Haiyan response.*

*  Evaluation Summary, Final Evaluation ofNorwegian-supported ILO Haiyan Project.

  • Develop a strategy for handling emergencies and disasters on the basis of the Haiyan response and other experience accumulated in the Philippines.
  • Develop a  genuine quick-response capacity.
  • Disaster response requires an administrative backbone on which the field teams can rely; therefore secure experienced or trained administrative staff at the earliest possible stage in order to provide support at all levels.
  • Commission actuarial studies with a view to anticipating any potential effect on the social security system and health insurance prior to enrolling emergency employment beneficiaries in social security and health insurance. This is necessary since retention of emergency employees in social security and health insurance cannot be guaranteed following termination of an emergency.