Employment-Intensive Investment in Nepal

Web page | 08 February 2017

Current EIIP Involvement

The objective of EIIP's work in Nepal is to improve the capacity for provision and maintenance of rural infrastructure, thus contributing to the government's efforts to alleviate poverty in the rural areas. As part of this support, the ILO assists the government in developing their infrastructure investment programmes with an emphasis on enhancing the use of local resources in rural infrastructure works through measures such as local employment creation, involvement of the local private sector and strengthening local government organisations.

Since 2014, EIIP activities in Nepal focus on providing technical assistance to the Strengthening the National Rural Transport Programme, funded by the World Bank. The SNRTP supports the enhancement of the availability and reliability of rural transport connectivity for communities in 36 districts. As part of the project strategy, high priority is given to protecting existing rural road assets through regular maintenance provision of maintenance.

The ILO technical assistance forms part of the capacity building component of the SNRTP, focusing on establishing sustainable maintenance practices in the District Technical Offices (DTOs), thereby protecting the investments made so far in the rural road network. The bulk of the ILO technical assistance consists of engineers and technicians posted in each of the project districts, with the task of building a comprehensive maintenance management system within the DTOs. This system includes establishing an up-to-date road condition inventory and, on this basis, implementing a routine and periodic maintenance regime.

The maintenance work is carried out through local Road User Groups, applying employment-intensive work methods. Each group consist of 4 to 5 workers, in charge of 8 to 10 km road sections. The workers are recruited from the poorest households in the vicinity of the roads - with more than 70% of the workforce being women. The DTO awards each group a contract for a period of one year. Payments are based on work performance and carried out through bank transfers to each of the group members.

So far the project has created 3.9 million workdays of paid employment, improving occupational safety and health practices and introducing accident insurance for the workforce. 321 rural roads totalling 5,408 km are now under routine maintenance and another 542 km has received periodic maintenance. This boosts local economies through improved and reliable access and new jobs created. In order to streamline maintenance activities, appropriate guidelines, pamphlets and fact sheets have been developed for the maintenance scheme and the new occupational safety and health practices.

Historical Information

The ILO’s involvement in employment-intensive infrastructure works started back in the 1980s through the Nepal Special Public Works Programme and thereafter the Dhaulagiri Irrigation Development Project. At the time, the technical cooperation focused on community works related to hill irrigation schemes.

In the 1990s, EIIP related activities shifted to the rural road subsector during which major efforts were provided as institutional support to the Ministry of Local Development. With grant funding from the Asian Development Bank, the ILO provided support to the creation of the Department of Local Infrastructure and Agricultural Roads (DoLIDAR). The ILO technical support during this period produced some of the key implementation guidelines of DoLIDAR, which are still being used today, including guidelines on district level transport planning, work norms and technical specifications (see below). The preparation of district master plans following the technical guidelines, as well as the development of local capacity to carry out rural transport planning and infrastructure works, were the first steps towards the implementation of the national strategy.

During the same period, the ILO worked closely with the World Bank (WB) to build capacity within district authorities and private contractors for the construction and maintenance of rural roads using employment-intensive methods. A training centre was established in Butwal where both contractors and government staff were trained.

In the early 2000s, the ILO provided training and monitoring to the WB funded Rural Infrastructure Project (RIP). At the end of the RIP, the ILO participated in the formulation and appraisal of the Rural Access Improvement Project (RAIP). As part of this exercise, the ILO carried out a comprehensive training needs assessment for DoLIDAR and the District Technical Offices.

The planning process through local government was further supported during the same period through collaboration with DoLIDAR on developing a Nepali version of Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning (IRAP). A generic IRAP process applied in other Asian countries was adapted to Nepalese conditions and implemented through the district authorities.

Starting in 2007, employment-intensive infrastructure works figured as a major component in the Dutch funded Employment and Local Economic Development project, consisting of irrigation, watershed management and rural road works. This project also provided the opportunity to further develop the concept of contracting local communities to maintain rural roads.

In 2009 the EIIP was involved in local infrastructure works in Dhanusha and Ramechhap Districts introducing community contracting in rural road maintenance and urban improvement works. The urban infrastructure work was prioritised and implemented by the communities, consisting of improving streets, drainage canals and community buildings. Emanating from the road works was the first maintenance guideline for rural roads in Nepal.

The EIIP also provided technical inputs to the Karnali Employment Programme (KEP). The KEP is a public works based social protection scheme in one of the poorest parts of Nepal in an attempt to address the regional dimension of poverty and vulnerability.

In 2010, employment-intensive investments in community infrastructure featured as one of the components in the Jobs for Peace Project, a joint FAO-ILO programme promoting youth employment as part of the post-conflict process of reintegration. The EIIP supported local communities in improving local roads, market infrastructure and irrigation schemes in Parsa and Rautahat Districts.

With financial and technical support from the ILO and in close coordination with the Rural Access Improvement and Decentralization Project (RAIDP) funded by the World Bank, routine maintenance of rural roads through community groups was piloted in three districts, Palpa, Kaski and Rupandehi. Through the use of employment-intensive work methods, these pilot activities again demonstrated how maintenance of rural roads could be used to effectively preserve local infrastructure and at the same time create more jobs in rural areas. At the same time, key aspects of the decent work agenda were further strengthened, including improvements in occupational safety and health and wages paid using bank accounts.

On various occasions, the EIIP has worked closely with Tribhuvan University. Back in the early 2000s an extensive collection of literature on labour-based technology was provided to its library.

After the earthquakes in 2015, the EIIP actively participated in the Post Disaster Needs Assessment and also supported the government efforts in its early reconstruction works with technical assistance and funding support to debris clearance and maintaining access roads into the affected areas.

Further reading

• Decent Civil Works in Nepal and Thailand: From Research to Action Planning- PDF 2,211 Kb
David Tajgman, International Labour Office, 2005
• Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning, Guidelines for Nepal - PDF 2,507 Kb
ILO-DoLIDAR, 2003