Employment-Intensive Investment in Panama

Web page | 10 February 2017

Current EIIP Involvement

Since 2009, the Joint Economics Governance Program for Water and Sanitation has been developed in order to “strengthen equity in order to reduce gaps in public services and provide safe water and sanitation through citizen empowerment in rural areas and excluded indigenous communities in Panama”. This joint program (PC-Programa Conjunto) has been set up in coordination and collaboration of international institutions such as the United Nations, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the ILO through the EIIP (Employment Intensive Investment Programme), as well as with the participation of Panamanian institutions such as the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health. The program has been executed in the districts of Kankintú Kusapín in Ngäbe Bugle indigenous territory (comarca).

The ILO approach was highlighted in the Panama project in various phases of design, implementation and management. These achievements made various actors and leaders Ngäbe Buglé travel on behalf of their peers to various forums related to Water Day or Water Week. Additional actions have been carried out such as the formation of the Association of mayors from indigenous regions, the Ngobe Women's Network, the Indigenous Community Radio Network and the participation of Panama's women leaders in different international events. Panama was also included as a case study in the ILO / UN Women study on unpaid water work alongside those of the Philippines and Senegal.

In June, 2015, the technical specialist form Geneva, during a mission to Central American countries, addressed the Association of Mayors of indigenous communities and Women's Network Ngobe in a workshop "Strengthening methodologies in employment-intensive investments for local management."
At project coordination level, the management of ILO coordinator Juan Perez has been recognized in the Coordination of Water Actions at the Country Level: A Report of the UN-Water Task Force on Country Level Coordination.

The UN World Water Development Report 2016 was dedicated to the theme of Water and Jobs, having as one of the references the MDG-JP on Water Governance and the ILO approach for employment creation and social dialogue. A special celebration of the World Water Day 2016 took place in the indigenous community of Kankintu, Bisira Panama.

Historical Information

Strengthening small private sector contractors
With the aim of increasing public participation in infrastructure works carried out by the program, it was suggested that the primary goal is to organize micro building using participating locals and companies involved in infrastructure to develop the program. However, considering the size of this project, the existing market for micro businesses and the potential of their growth and consolidation, new approaches are also being considered.

One of these other strategies proposed aims to achieve a direct impact on the local populations, allowing them to benefit directly from the jobs and income created, generating important investments in infrastructure developed by the Program.

The ILO plays an intermediary role between the local population and construction companies for the provision of local labour. It is also noted that the local workforce, and the salary that they are paid, is different from what the community must contribute to the infrastructure.

Capacities and skills
In this area there are two projects under way regarding the strengthening of popular organizations and business training. In order to provide better power to these local organizations and the rural population, the ILO has been responsible for strengthening the Rural Water Management Boards. In this case, a diagnosis of their condition was established so that a project can, in future, be implemented to strengthen them.

While the ILO has the task of organizing micro construction, this task could be extended to the organization of local microenterprises in general. Providing business training to groups of local people in diverse communities can both generate new and innovative business ideas as well as improve existing small businesses. Among others, tourism, crafts and agricultural products are being developed in such training programs. The formation of micro enterprises in areas beyond construction, could, in the near future, improve the overall income of the population and help it to meet its commitments to the Rural Water Management Boards for the provision of water, therefore helping consolidation.

Further Reading

Jiménez, M.. Guía Metodológica en aspectos jurídicos, administrativos, técnicos y ambientales Juntas Administradoras de Acueductos Rurales (JAAR). 2010. Gobierno Nacional República de Panamá, Fondo para el logro de los ODM, OIT. Panamá.
UN Water. 2014. Coordination of Water Actions at the Country Level: A Report of the UN-Water Task Force on Country Level Coordination.