Employment-Intensive Investment in Lesotho

Web page | 10 December 2014

Current EIIP Involvement

Urban upgrading
The Maseru City Council (MCC) is the local government body responsible for a range of services within the Municipal Area boundary including providing economic and social assistance to the people living in the city. To improve its capacity to properly address the expanding and already grave challenge of urban unemployment, the MCC decided to adopt an approach involving communities and using labour-based methods in urban upgrading schemes for the delivery of its services. Although labour-based methods are well known in Lesotho, due to challenges in capacity utilization and implementation, the MCC sought assistance to enhance the effectiveness of its operations. The Maseru City Council implemented the labour-based project in 2000 – 2002 to (i) support the establishment of the Labour-Based Unit (LBU) within MCC and to (ii)capacitate local staff of the Council to run the Unit after the termination of the project. The United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Volunteers (UNDP/UNV) and the ILO provided technical assistance, while the Japanese Government provided grant funding.

Under the project, mechanisms enabling community involvement in service delivery from planning through to implementation were developed. The process starts with a participatory assessment for community need followed by an identification and planning stage, then design, prioritization and finally implementation. Through this process the communities take on more responsibility in operation and maintenance, and in monitoring and evaluation. The resulting projects formulated are based on prioritised needs and focus on community/labour-based approaches for implementation. The process ensures ownership and sustainability.

The long-term impacts on the poverty levels in Maseru are yet to be assessed. However, during the project, a total of about 26,000 worker days were generated through labour-based approaches within the city of Maseru. Women provided almost half (12,730 worker days) of the labour. Eleven stretches of roads, totaling 30km were upgraded using the labour-based approach.

While a labour-based method of construction of infrastructure such as roads normally gives immediate but temporary employment, the orientation and mode of operation of the solid waste management scheme provides an avenue for creation of permanent self-employment. This approach has been applied in Maseru and so far a total of about 171 persons have been engaged in collection and disposal of solid waste within Maseru. In addition, through the community based approach, income generating groups have been formed in various constituents in Maseru.

Historical Information

Labour-based roadworks
Mining industry retrenchment policies resulted in a rapid increase in unemployment in the seventies. To address this problem of unemployment, the Labour Construction Unit (LCU) of the Ministry of Works was established in 1977 to promote the efficient use of labour-based methods and to create alternative employment opportunities for migrant workers returning from South Africa. The ILO was involved in the establishment by providing technical assistance. The Unit was expanded and was fully institutionalized within the Ministry in 1988. This was in line with the Government’s policy to promote the extensive use of labour-based methods of work. It later became a fully-fledged department: the Department for Rural Roads (DRR) within the Ministry of Works. The DRR is responsible for a significant portion of the country's gazetted road network – upgrading, rehabilitating and maintaining a road network of 2500 km using labour-based methods. DRR is also involved in more complex community projects funded under the Lesotho Fund for Community Development.

Labour-based contractor development
In 1993, a World Bank-financed project to develop a cadre of small-scale contractors capable of carrying out labour-based road maintenance works on the gravel road network was launched. During the project period, 32 domestic contractors were trained in technical and managerial aspects of running a road maintenance enterprise. The ILO provided technical assistance with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) funding. During the project, a set of training material was written for the specific needs of labour-based road maintenance contractors. This material referred to as “Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation” (ROMAR), was based on the ILO Improve Your Construction Business methodology and is now widely used in the region and beyond.

Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance project
In 1997, a large-scale project, the Road Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project (RRMP) was initiated to improve the road network, build capacity and restructure the Ministry of Works. The project, funded through the Government of Lesotho, IDA, the European Union (EU), Irish Aid and Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW), trained local labour-based contractors to expand their skills and work opportunities to include construction and up-grading activities using labour-based methods.

In April 1997, the ILO ceased its direct technical assistance involvement in Lesotho, but continued to be involved through a Sida and IDA funded agreement with the Government of Lesotho, providing inputs into the development of curriculum, training materials, and implementation plans for contractor construction and upgrading training. Training material was developed based on the experience and courses conducted, referred to as Road Construction and Upgrading (ROCAU). The training material includes guidelines on the planning, organization and implementing of training programmes for small-scale contractors as well as a manual with the actual material to be used for classroom training.

Further reading

  • Final Evaluation of Project LES/00/V01, 2003.
  • Community involvement in labour-based urban upgrading, experiences from Maseru, Lesotho
    M. Kasure and T. Stenstrom. A paper presented at the 10th Regional Seminar for Labour-based Practitioners, Arusha, Tanzania, October 2004. ILO/ASIST. (Papers of the tenth regional seminar for labour-based practitioners, pg 62)
  • Road construction and upgrading (ROCAU) – Training guidelines; Training manual and Overhead slides
    Labour Construction Unit (LCU), Lesotho, 1999.
  • Road maintenance and regravelling (ROMAR) using labour-based methods – Handbook and workbook
    Andersson, C and Beusch, A., IT Pubs., 1997.
  • Improve your construction business series:
    Pricing and bidding: Handbook and workbook;
    Site management: Handbook and workbook;
    Business management: Handbook and workbook
    Andersson, C et al. ILO.
  • Transformation of the Labour Construction Unit from an executing to contract supervisory agency In ILO/MART Development of small-scale contracing workshop,
    Harare, 27th November – 1st December 1995 report. AT. Lehobo, ILO/ASIST, Harare, 1995.