Employment-Intensive Investment in Ethiopia

Web page | 08 February 2017

Current EIIP Involvement

Ethiopia has achieved relatively rapid economic growth and experienced a marked improvement in the social wellbeing of its population in the last decade. However, in spite of these positive developments, unemployment and poverty still remain a major challenge in the country. The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) acknowledges that poverty, unemployment and social imbalances are the most pervasive problems that the country is currently facing, and is committed to broad-based policy reforms and programmes to address these challenges. The government has continuously articulated the need to create sufficient employment opportunities to absorb the country’s growing labour force and has put in place various short, medium and long-term employment creation measures that are meant to improve the income and livelihood of both the rural and urban poor.

One of the strategies adopted by the GoE is the use of Employment Intensive Approach for public infrastructure delivery wherever this is found to be technically and economically feasible. The GoE has implemented a number of employment-intensive programmes since the early 80’s with an impressive result.

The International Labour organization (ILO) and Government of Ethiopia (GOE) have many years of collaborations, going back to the 80s, in the area of employment-intensive investment programme (EIIP). The ILO has supported the government in introducing the application of a well-designed employment-intensive approach (EIA), developing planning and implementation tools, capacity building interventions particularly relating to technical training institutions, and most recently, promoting partnership between Government and emerging entrepreneurs in the delivery of road works.

The GoE is currently implementing a flagship employment-intensive programme, the Universal Rural Roads Access Program (URRAP). URRAP was launched in 2011, with the objective of connecting about 18,000 Kebeles (wards) to all-weather roads. In its first five-year from 2011-2015, the programme planned to rehabilitate some 72,000 km of all-weather rural roads, which was by and large achieved. This was part of the 4th Road Sector Development Program (RSDP IV) covering the period 2011-15. Under the 5th RSDP (RSDP V), the government plans to construct over 100,000 km of rural roads through URRAP in five years. The construction and maintenance of roads will be implemented by emerging local entrepreneurs (both contractors and consultants) who will be supported by the programme. The GoE through the Ethiopian Roads Authority has already trained some 1,000 small scale contractors and 200 consultants to work on the programme. Employment-intensive techniques have been identified as the preferred methods of delivery.

URRAP is primarily designed to construct gravel-surfaced roads. However, there is an increasing demand from the road users and regional authorities in favour of more durable surfacing options that are less costly to maintain. The rapidly depleting gravel deposits in all parts of the country, coupled with high cost of routine maintenance and environmental degradation, have increased the pressure to seeking alternative road sealing options that are employment friendly.

In the past few years, the ILO supported the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) in building training capacity on the employment-intensive road sealing technology in one of its technical training institutions, Chancho Labour-based Training Centre. As part of this, ILO/EIIP supported the development of a comprehensive training material on the application of low volume road sealing that is appropriate for application of employment-intensive technology, in competency-based modular format. The training material is being used to train engineers and technicians in both the public and private sectors, thus building the local capacity for the implementation of sealed roads under URRAP. The ILO in the third quarter of 2015 trained ERA trainers as well as initial seed of contractors on low volume road sealing using the above training materials. The ILO is also providing advisory support and mentorship to mainstreaming the technology in the technical training institutions in the road sub-sector.

In addition, the ILO organized and conducted a soil conservation workshop benefiting 30 engineers and technicians from ERA training centres and head office as well as regional road authorities. The workshop was organized at the request of ERA due to an increasing demand from the road users and regional authorities for practical interventions to ensure that the run off from upper-catchment to the roads and from the roads to lower-catchment areas is disposed to lowest natural course without causing much damage.

Historical Information

Between 1981 and 1987, the ILO assisted the Ethiopian Transport and Construction Authority in establishing labour-based rehabilitation brigades. The technical assistance component of this work was funded under World Bank road sector credits. The results of this experience were very positive and received strong support from both the Ethiopian Government and the World Bank.

In late 1997, the ILO participated in the preparation of a road improvement project in Tigray and South Wollo Regions. The project was financed by the Italian Government with technical assistance given by the ILO. Capacity building of the Regional Rural Roads Authorities responsible for the road improvement works was an important element of the project. The project also served as a testing ground for the introduction of labour-based routine maintenance by local contractors.

In 2002, the ILO Sub-Regional Office in Addis Ababa, in collaboration with the EIIP, facilitated the development of ERTTP’s (the Ethiopian Rural Travel and Transport Programme) implementation manuals and reviewed and appraised of their Phase One activities. The Department for International Development in the UK (DFID) and Ireland Aid provided funds to support the execution of the programme. The purpose of the programme was to increase poor people's access and mobility by developing and testing a methodology for managing travel and transport interventions in selected woredas (or districts), in all eight regions of the country. Other ILO initiatives include:

Rapid Assessment of Poverty Impact
In Ethiopia, the impact of the employment-intensive approach and other development interventions on poverty was not sufficiently documented. This was largely due to the general lack of correct information and statistics given to generate reports describing the poverty situation in given areas. Moreover, the causal effects on poverty have very seldom been investigated, even in the case of projects having poverty reduction as a clearly stated objective. To address the concern for lack of a methodology for the assessment of poverty impact, the EIIP has engaged in a research effort to develop procedures and methods to provide information on the correct information on poverty during employment-intensive rural infrastructure development programmes and projects. This has led to the development of the Rapid Assessment of Poverty Impacts (RAPI) methodology, a more rapid survey method to assess poverty reduction. The ILO Sub-Regional Office and Addis Ababa, in collaboration with EIIP have finalized a field test of the RAPI methodology in Tigray, Ethiopia as part of the rural roads project under the Emergency Recovery Programme.

Urban Upgrading Works: Collaboration with the University of Addis Ababa
The Faculty of Technology of The University of Addis Ababa and the ILO collaborated on a programme to introduce labour-based technology into the curricula at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
In 2002, at the request of the Amhara Regional government, the ILO (EIIP) provided technical assistance to the formulation of a programme to adopt the use of a labour-based approach in the provision of infrastructure in the urban sector. The Amhara Region has submitted the document to potential funding agencies. The anticipated funding was not forthcoming but the Regional Government implemented some of the proposed ideas (solid waste management, access roads, drainage upgrading, etc.) using its own funding.

Emergency Recovery Programme (ERP)
The Government of Ethiopia with funding from the World Bank implemented an Emergency Recovery Programme (ERP) to reinstate the infrastructure destroyed or damaged during the war. The two-year Programme involved the emergency improvement of rural roads in the Tigray region. The ILO was commissioned in March 2003 to provide consultancy services for the construction supervision of approximately 500 km of rural roads. The EIIP was also responsible for training and building the capacity of government staff and local private contractors.