UNDP launches cash-for-work programme for destroyed communities in the Philippines

Nov 25, 2013

Tacloban, Philippines
—The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) began debris removal projects last week by providing cash-for-work to villagers hit hard by typhoon Haiyan. Local communities started clearing rubble and medical waste, earning much needed income to get back on track after the destruction from the typhoon, while also easing access routes for humanitarian supplies.

“The debris removal is an important part of the relief operation as streets without rubble are a precondition for aid distribution,” said Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific during his visit to the storm ravaged city of Tacloban.

Over the past weekend, an initial 180 men and women started removing rubble and medical waste in two hospitals, two schools and streets in three severely damaged neighborhoods (barangays) in Tacloban and in Palo through the UNDP organized cash-for-work programme. They received basic equipment and tools such as generators, shovels, and wheelbarrows to begin the early recovery process. With the assistance of the Australian aid agency, AusAid, 50 workers per day receive vaccinations against tetanus.

“In addition to contributing to the humanitarian effort, the debris removal is also a critical component of economic recovery,” added Haoliang Xu. “We’re going to create 200,000 temporary jobs in debris removal in the most affected municipalities over the next six months.”

The benefits of debris removal cash-for-work programme include:

  • The cleared roads will allow easier access for humanitarian aid to reach isolated communities;
  • The cash-for-work employees selected in cooperation with local authorities and community leaders will bring income to 200,000 households;
  • The payments to workers will inject needed cash into the local economy;
  • The removed rubble and properly disposed waste will reduce the risk of disease.

The debris removal and waste management are part of a US$20 million early recovery plan which has building resilience of these communities at its core. The programmes under the plan will help, among other things, rehabilitate local businesses, restore community infrastructure such as access roads and town (barangay) halls, and will contribute to restarting the provision of services of the local government structures that were severely affected by the typhoon.

“While meeting the immediate needs of the families who lost everything is of utmost importance right now, we must also work with communities to recover their lives and livelihoods, and build in resilience to withstand future super storms,” added Haoliang Xu. “It is not just a matter of building back better, it is also a matter of building back sustainably.”

The cash-for-work and recovery programme builds on UNDP’s extensive experience in reconstruction and rebuilding. For example, 16,000 people employed in UNDP's cash-for-work programme after typhoon Pablo hit the Philippines in 2012 removed half-a-million cubic meters of rubble.

The funding for the new initiative so far comes from Japan, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, and UNDP.

To meet the urgent needs of the devastated communities, UNDP is seeking another US$10 million for recovery through the Typhoon Haiyan Action Plan launched on 13 November 2013 in Manila.


Manila: Stanislav Saling, Spokesperson a.i., UNDP Philippines, stanislav.saling@undp.org, +63 917 597 4744

Bangkok: Cherie Hart, UNDP Regional Communications Advisor, cherie.hart@undp.org, +66 81 918 1564

New York: Damian Kean, UNDP Communications Officer, damian.kean@undp.org, +1 212 906 6871

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