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5.3 million jobs may have been affected by the floods in Pakistan 

08 September 2010 05:12:36

5.3 million jobs may have been affected by the floods in Pakistan


More than 5.3 million jobs may have been lost or affected as a result of the worst-ever floods in the history of Pakistan that devastated more than 70 districts of Pakistan, the International Labour Office (ILO) said on Tuesday.

According to it, productive and labour intensive job creation programmes are urgently needed to lift millions of people out of poverty that has been aggravated by flood damage.

"Reports of widespread destruction show that the livelihoods of millions of people are threatened or have been destroyed", said the ILO Country Director Donglin Li. "As humanitarian and reconstruction efforts proceed, we must begin working immediately to ensure that initiatives are established to monitor and create decent and productive employment and rebuild peoples' livelihoods."

An initial assessment conducted in the days following the floods indicated that it caused widespread destruction of most infrastructure and shops in the affected provinces in the country -- including Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir, with heavy losses in agriculture and livestock. The assessment found that residents of the badly afflicted parts of Pakistan would require "substantial support to rebuild their income-generating prospects".

Compounding the devastation was the fact that the areas affected are amongst the poorest in Pakistan, the ILO said. "By losing their employment, even for a short period of time, workers in the affected districts have likely already fallen into extreme poverty", Mr. Li said.

In order to meet the needs of the population in the afflicted areas, the ILO urged that programmes aimed at generating new employment and other income-producing opportunities be incorporated into the rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes that will need to be immediately undertaken following the relief efforts now underway.

These would include employment support services to provide both information and short-term training for the jobs that will be generated through the reconstruction effort; financial and institutional support to rebuild small businesses and income-generating assets in both the rural and urban areas; channelling of financial support from the outside world, including remittances from overseas toward meeting urgently needed basic services; and the creation of institutional mechanisms to ensure that this happens.

"Rebuilding the basic infrastructure -- roads, utility services, schools and hospitals - can create employment", Mr. Li said. "This means ensuring that decent and productive yet labour-intensive methods are utilised."

Such programmes would include:

* Identifying and registering the affected populations that have lost their livelihoods

* Recording and classifying job seekers and allocating workers to reconstruction efforts in need of skilled labour

* Developing local capacities to implement emergency employment services

* Linking unemployed people with available work opportunities

* Assisting in restoring the capacity of local government to provide basic services needed by the population and to coordinate rebuilding efforts during both emergency and post-emergency phases

* Assisting in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of public infrastructure with focus on employment intensive approaches to maximize job opportunities for local population

* Providing short-term skills-training for men and women from severely affected households to be able to be engaged in reconstruction effort, and harnessing the energy of young people

* Providing skills training and micro-business management training to regenerate immediately needed employment and livelihood opportunities for severely affected households.

The ILO also cautioned that the floods could aggravate the already vulnerable position of children, many of whom may be left orphaned, homeless, and out of school in the wake of the disaster, and force them to seek alternative forms of support. In addition, women and youth have traditionally found it particularly difficult to find decent employment opportunities and to secure a life outside of poverty. Without immediate help, poverty among these groups will grow, leaving thousands more young people and women with little hope for the future, the assessment report said.

"Working in the aftermath of these floods is not going to be easy," Mr. Li said. "These are proud people who have over generations fought against the difficult circumstances to earn for themselves and their families a better living. Much of their hard won assets have been destroyed. What is needed urgently is to monitor and support the creation of decent jobs and livelihoods in the future. The ILO stands ready to play its part in a global effort, along with the national authorities, to assist families and communities in rehabilitating the region, rebuilding lives, and restoring hope."