ILO: Rampant child labor in Yolanda-hit areas

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 12 2014 04:12 AM | Updated as of Jun 12 2014 12:12 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Many young children in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda have failed to go back to school and are now forced to work in harsh conditions, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported yesterday.

ILO said the devastation wrought by Yolanda last year resulted in a widespread child labor problem in the Visayas.

Based on an assessment of the Yolanda-affected municipalities in Western and Central Visayas, 54 percent of the 112 barangays in the two regions reported “that children are involved in child labor or in harsh and dangerous employment,” the ILO said.

The ILO also noted that 75 percent of the barangays with child laborers reported that working children are not able to go to school.

The assessment took place in 112 barangays and 125 schools, and the key informants included community leaders and head teachers.

To raise awareness on child labor, the ILO and government agencies will commemorate the World Day against Child Labor with a protest march in Tacloban City today. Thousands of families affected by Yolanda will join the march.

According to ILO, poverty and shocks play a key role in driving children to work.

“Poor households are more likely to have to resort to child labor to meet basic needs and deal with uncertainty and exposure to shocks, resulting in loss of family income, and can have a similar effect on household decisions,” the ILO said.

Social protection instruments such as cash transfer programs and public employment programs are most helpful in combating child labor. Social health protection, which ensures access to health care and financial protection in case of sickness, can also stop households from sending children to work when a member of the household falls ill, it added.

The ILO further noted that providing maternity benefits that protect pregnant women and allow caring for new-born children not only improve the health of mothers and children but also prevent older children from working to replace the mothers’ lost income.

Social protection for people with disabilities, income security in old age and unemployment protection can also help reduce the prevalence of child labor, the ILO said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is pursuing efforts to transfer Yoalnda survivors still living in tents to safer and comfortable shelters.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said that while the bunkhouses and permanent core shelters are being constructed by the DSWD under its Core Shelter Program, the DSWD and the Department of Public Works and Highways continue to provide emergency shelter kits to typhoon victims.

A total of 11,979 shelter kits were distributed to Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas.

Soliman said the Department of Budget and Management committed to release funds for the shelter assistance based on the rehabilitation plans of implementing agencies, including the budget for the construction of core shelter houses after all the documentary requirements are submitted. With Rainier Allan Ronda