Employment-Intensive Investment in the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Web page | 11 September 2015

Current EIIP Involvement

Current Projects in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

  • (Since 2013) Income Security and Employment Promotion for Poverty Reduction (Total budget: 174,920)
  • (Since 2011) Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality through Enterprise Development (Total budget: 75,000)
  • (Since 2014) ACI 5 on Rural Employment to Laos (Total budget: 250,000)
  • (Since 2015) Rural Safety Nets through Income Security, Employment and Decent Work Promotion for Poverty Reduction (Total budget: USD 180,952)

Rural Employment for Poverty Reduction

When discussing the Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) with the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in 2011, ILO was requested to build on earlier EIIP work, broaden the experiences in the country and help to develop an integrated approach for rural employment promotion for poverty reduction to achieve the goals set out in the National Social Economic Development Plan (NSEDP).
A more integrated approach was developed and discussed with national counterparts in a series of national workshops and meetings starting in 2012. The approach consists of a direct income support component and a longer term livelihood improvement component (a combination of different interventions such as community asset development, skills improvements, value chain upgrading, small and medium enterprise support and OSH). Building on earlier lessons learnt in Lao PDR in these technical areas the approach centres on actions at district and provincial level which can inform policies and strategies at the national level.
The proposed strategy was endorsed by MPI which considered the activities as essential for rural poverty reduction and requested ILO to operationalize the rural employment promotion approach in three provinces and develop national and local capacity to use the existing ILO tools and practices. A national Workshop was organized by MPI with ILO support to discuss the strategies with stakeholders at national level. After the workshop, MPI identified the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) and the Lao National Committee of Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (LNCRDPE) as the main focal points and ILO counterparts. It was agreed to start in one province, Sekong, to demonstrate and pilot test the approach. In 2013 activities were initiated at provincial level with a series of provincial workshops on the proposed rural employment strategies.
EIIP provided some seed funding and a few small projects allowed the ILO to start a programme of work in Lao PDR and operationalize the strategy. The objective of the work is threefold:
At village level demonstrate the impact of the integrated approach.
At provincial/district level build capacity to integrate and use rural employment approaches and tools.
At national level influence national policies and strategies and mainstream rural employment approaches for poverty reduction
Local authorities in Sekong Province were introduced to EIIP activities under the community works component and made aware of the link to the overall rural employment work. Thereupon, local people in the two selected pilot zones were consulted and their willingness to work on (paid) employment intensive community schemes was assessed. Three immediate priorities were selected:
  • Improvement of existing rural access roads;
  • Maintenance of newly constructed access roads;
  • Fish pond construction for raising fish for nutrition and marketing.
Two roads were selected, one in each cluster, and cost estimates were prepared in consultation with the Department of Public Works and Transport (DPWT). The district authorities fully supported the work and were assisted by the project to prepare two project proposals to request a grant from the Japanese Embassy in Vientiane for further developing their areas by improving rural access and providing employment opportunities during dry season.
The project also looks at the potential to demonstrate interventions to provide employment to the villagers during the dry season through routine road maintenance. Six people from the six poorest families in the selected villages in each cluster work together as a road maintenance team carrying out routine road maintenance over a stretch of 6 kilometers. The activities are technically supported and supervised by the Rural Development Office (RDO). Ten working days per month is estimated for each member of the road maintenance teams for implementing the required works. This makes road maintenance an additional income earning opportunity that can easily be combined with agriculture or other prime economic activities.
Fishpond development was identified as a priority area to support local income generation and food security. It provides an opportunity to bring together the different components that make up the rural employment creation approach. The development of the fish ponds allows for the demonstration of community contracting and the engagement of local labour in the construction of the fishponds and fencing. It provides an opportunity to generate local income through short-term employment and the consumption and marketing of fish.

Historical Information

Dating back to the early 1980’s, the ILO has a history of providing advisory support to the Lao Government for its rural infrastructure works programme. More recently, the ILO, with technical backstopping from EIIP, has been supporting the government in building up local capacity to plan and implement rural infrastructure works. As part of this support, effective tools have been established for Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning (IRAP).

EIIP also had a close collaboration with the formal training institutions involved in this sector - in particular the Polytechnic, the School of Transport and Communications and the MCTPC Telecom and Communication Training Institute (TCTI). Modules on labour-based technology are still used in 2015.
Furthermore, EIIP provided technical assistance to the ADB loan funded Shifting Cultivation Stabilisation Pilot Project (SCSPP) in Houaphanh Province and the ADB loan funded Smallholder Development project in Champasack. This support consisted of (i) technical inputs for the survey and design of two rural roads, (ii) assistance in contract supervision during the implementation of the road works, and (iii) strengthening of local capacity to undertake similar work in the future.
Local Level Planning
The "Rural Access Planning and Infrastructure for Basic Needs Project" or "IRAP" started in 1995 with UNDP funding, and was executed by the Lao Government with technical assistance from the ILO. In 1997, Sida started co-financing this project. The main components included:
  • development, promotion and institutionalization of local level access planning;
  • training of Government counterpart staff and the establishment of local capacity;
  • establishment of data bases and preparation of maps;
  • Identification of priority projects and the formulation of project proposals;
  • development of a community participatory process of planning and implementing rural access interventions;
  • development and establishment of a rural road planning framework.
It is interesting to note that even now in 2015 four of the five criteria to identify poor villages in the country are access related and based on the access indicators developed under the project.

Rural Roads

With the recent labour-based rural road works project in Savannakhet and Oudomxai, the ILO managed to develop a comprehensive strategy for the construction and maintenance of rural roads in Laos. The viability of these policies and implementation strategies were clearly verified through the road works activities carried out in the two provinces. The main recommendations as regards to the viability of using labour-based technology in the road sector were summarised in a strategy document prepared for the government by this project. In addition, the project documented how labour-based technology can be applied under the prevalent conditions of Laos in a technical manual.
Through the Savannakhet/Oudomxai project, the ILO established a close working relationship with various training institutions in Laos, as they had taken interest in labour-based road works technology. Through their involvement in project training activities, these institutions decided to disseminate this experience to a wider audience by incorporating labour-based technology in their regular training courses. As a result, the ILO was involved in the development of appropriate training material on labour-based road works technology for the School of Transport and Communications and the Vientiane Polytechnic.
The ILO, through EIIP, is provided technical assistance to the ADB-loan-funded Shifting Cultivation Stabilisation Pilot Project (SCSPP) in Houaphanh Province. This support consisted of (i) technical inputs for the survey and design of two rural roads, (ii) assistance in contract supervision for the implementation of the road works, and (iii) strengthening of local capacity to undertake similar work in the future.
ASIST-AP (the hub of EIIP in Asia) inputs consisted of technical assistance to both the design and implementation stages through (i) training, carried out in collaboration with TCTI, for the provincial technical staff, and (ii) on-the-job training through the provision of a Field Engineer working together with staff from DCTPC in design and supervision of the road works.
As part of the above activities, ASIST-AP prepared complete bidding documents for the two rural roads, which has been designed in a manner allowing for labour-based work methods to be applied. Two local contractors were engaged, and works soon came to completion. ASIST-AP supported the local authorities in work supervision, and provided technical advice to the contractors.
ASIST-AP was involved in the detailed formulation of the infrastructure component of the Smallholder Development Project, which commenced in 2005. As a result ADB requested ASIST-AP to introduce labour-based work methods for the construction of provincial and district roads in Champasack Province and train small local contractors.

Policy Level Work

ASIST-AP staff participated in several strategy workshops relating to the effective provision of rural infrastructure in Laos covering topics such as rural road maintenance and national road strategies. Together with the Government and the World Bank, ASIST-AP formulated the terms of reference for a study on appropriate maintenance practices in Laos.
A national workshop was held to review the procedures developed to improve access at the district level and to receive inputs from different line agencies such as health, education, transport and agriculture.

Further reading

  • Lao Houaphan Household survey - PDF 952 Kb
    Chloe Pearse, International Labour Organisation, June 2006
  • Review of Rural Road Maintenance in Lao PDR: Current Status, Issues and Options - PDF 1,172 Kb
    Kirit Vaidya and Pisit Tusanasorn, August 2004
  • Use of Labour based works Technology in the Smallholder Development Project, Feasibility Study - PDF 1,560 Kb
    Bjorn Johannessen, International Labour Organisation, February 2002.
  • Strategy Document for a Labour-based Road Works Programme in Lao PDR - PDF 536 Kb
    Bjorn Johannessen and Geoff Edmonds, Project LAO/90/M01FRG, Vientiane December 1996
  • Technical Manual Labour Based Road Construction Methods - PDF 1,795 Kb
    Bjorn Johannessen, International Labour Organisation 1997
  • Labour Based Road Construction and Maintenance Technology, Course Notes for the National Polytechnic Institute - PDF 3,446 Kb
    Bjorn Johannessen, International Labour Organisation 1997
  • IRAP Laos Issue Paper 1, Access and Income Generating Activities - PDF 294 Kb
    Chris Donnges, UNDP/Sida/ILO, 1998
  • IRAP Laos Issue Paper 2, Guidelines on Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning, The Laos Experience - PDF 260 Kb
    Chris Donnges, UNDP/Sida/ILOn, 1998
  • IRAP Laos Issue Paper 3, Rural Road Planning, Recommendations for Improving the Rural Road Network in Lao PDR - PDF 155 Kb
    Chris Donnges, UNDP/Sida/ILO, 1998
  • IRAP Laos Issue Paper 4, Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning and Community Participation in Rural Infrastructure Development - PDF 127 Kb
    Chris Donnges, International Labour Organisation, 1999
  • Household Survey Report of Five Selected Sekong Villages - PDF 1,319 Kb
    Nadia Guillin, UNDP/ILO 1999.
  • Impact Assessment Report IRAP Laos - PDF 46 Kb
    Chris Donnges & Linda Deelen, UNDP/ESCAP/ILO, 1999
  • Guidelines for Transport Infrastructure Inventory, Preparation of Transport Network Analysis - PDF 32 Kb
    Chris Donnges, International Labour Organisation, 1999