CFW Proposal

A draft proposal concerning Cash for Work’s (CFW) role in recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake

25 March 2011
CFW Japan (prepared by Shingo Nagamatsu)

1. CFW’s goal

  1. To provide temporary employment to disaster-affected individuals and, by maintaining a minimum level of income for them, support the independent recovery of the regional economy.
  2. By involving affected individuals directly in the region’s recovery effort, give them a sense of dignity and hope for the future, and strengthen ties among the people of the region.

2. Who will be employed by CFW

  1. Those who have no other means of income. As long as the individual was living in the disaster area, the degree of material loss incurred by the disaster is not a factor.
  2. Men and women who are able to work. For those unable to work, such as the elderly and disabled, measures separate from CFW should be implemented.

3. Type of work in which CFW could be implemented

  1. In developing countries, CFW has been used mainly to construction and rebuilding infrastructure, but CFW is not limited to manual labor. Considering our country’s economic structure and future disaster response activities, white-collar work should also be included in CFW.
  2. CFW is not a make-work scheme. The work must be necessary for recovery and must be meaningful for the person employed.
  3. CFW should not be used for emergency work, such as rebuilding critical infrastructure, nor should it be used for highly technical or hazardous work.
  4. Some examples of tasks appropriate to CFW include:
  • Collect and return possessions to their rightful owners
  • Clean up around one’s residence
  • Rebuild infrastructure and residences (excluding critical infrastructure)
    -Clean up construction sites; transport materials
  • Assist businesses in rebuilding
  • Assist the government’s support services for affected individuals
    -Create a disaster victim registry
    -Issue damage reports to affected individuals
    -Set up information centers and call centers
    -Inspect temporary shelters, distribute meals, work at the community center
  • Projects by volunteer organizations and NGO’s
    -Provide meals and lodging for volunteers
  • Assist in academic investigation
    -Serve as a guide for researchers, respond to surveys and interviews

4. CFW's wages

  1. CFW’s primary objective is to assist in the self-sufficient recovery of the regional economy, so CFW must not compete with existing industries or disrupt the labor market.
  2. Therefore, CFW wages must be set somewhat below the prevailing wage or, at the very least, cannot be set higher than the prevailing wage. In developing countries, CFW wages have generally been set approximately twenty to thirty percent below the prevailing wage.
  3. By setting the CFW wage lower than the prevailing wage, only those who have no other means of support will join the scheme. This will also ensure that CFW reaches only those who need the support.

5. Framework for the Japanese version of CFW

  1. Set up a government-level CFW Committee staffed by employment and labor experts and by representatives of relevant agencies. The committee will create guidelines on wage levels, form of employment, requirements for employment and the types of tasks that are appropriate for CFW.
  2. Set up CFW centers in each community and accomplish the following tasks:
    * Match labor supply with demand -- match those seeking work according to factors such as age, sex and skills.
    * Administrative tasks -- account for hours worked and wages to be paid
    * Monitor the marketplace in the disaster-hit area -- Monitor the disaster area’s economic situation on an ongoing basis and ensure that CFW is not having a negative impact
    * Basic training -- conduct skills training sessions (such as how to use computers) as needed
  3. Considering that the local government may not be functioning properly due to the disaster, the responsibility of running the CFW center should be given to appropriate private sector organizations, such as staffing agencies. At the same time, the CFW centers should also involve the local self-governing body and NPO’s specialized in employment support services. Expenses shall be paid by the government.
  4. Individuals receive work opportunities by registering at the CFW center. The CFW center should be receptive to not just individuals, but group registrations.
  5. The self-governing body, local businesses and aid organizations go through the CFW center to employ affected individuals. The CFW center will assess the task on criteria such as whether or not it is fit for CFW, if the individual can realistically accomplish the task, if the task is safe, and so forth. Where needed, the CFW center will suggest improvements in the proposed task.
  6. Wages are paid by the employer through the CFW center. Payment will be made by direct deposit where possible, or by cash if direct deposit if not possible.
  7. A CFW Fund will be set up as the funding source. Funding will come from donations. If aid organizations do not have a source of funding with which to employ people, they can apply to the CFW Fund for money to pay wages.

6. Miscellaneous

  1. CFW is an emergency response program, so wages should not be considered income for the following two reasons:
    * Calculating deductions for income tax will become complicated and would hamper the execution of the project
    * Preventing situations in which individuals become disqualified from aid programs because their income is too high as a result of participating in CFW
  2. CFW should proactively reach out to trade associations and other groups in the disaster area in order to source work and potential employees in large quantities. This approach both leverages and strengthens existing social capital.
  3. Traditional volunteering should co-exist with CFW. Not everything can be converted into CFW tasks.


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