Employment-Intensive Investment in Cambodia

Web page | 11 September 2015

 

Current EIIP Involvement

EIIP recently supported Cambodia in the development and formulation of its National Social Protection Strategy for the Poor and Vulnerable (NSPS-PV). This national strategy aims at establishing a national social protection floor with universal access to basic health care and primary education and establishing a minimum level of income security. One of the main instruments to achieve income security for abled workers in the informal sector is the proposed national programme for public works. EIIP assisted the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) under the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to develop and design this instrument in close collaboration with other Development partners, most notably WFP, DFAT and ADB.

Historical Information

Increasing Capacity

Since 1992, the ILO has promoted labour-based appropriate technology (LBAT) in Cambodia as an effective means to generate employment by improving and maintaining essential rural infrastructure and as a tool to directly fight poverty.

In that first year, the ILO introduced LBAT to rehabilitate Cambodia's secondary and tertiary roads. Work began in the North-West provinces in response to requests from UNHCR, whose task was to resettle people and give them access to food distribution points. Training of staff, such as engineers, technicians and supervisors started at an early stage in the refugee camps along the border. During the 1990s, the ILO constructed and maintained some 800 km of rural roads using labour-based work methods. As a result of the success of these strategies for rebuilding local roads, a number of other donors initiated similar projects applying the technology developed by the ILO.

With the involvement of EIIP in the post-conflict reconstruction of Cambodia and mindful of the importance of the Angkor monuments and their value for tourism-driven development, the EIIP joined UNESCO to spearhead a massive clearing and restoration operation that employed hundreds of workers.
The competitiveness of the technology and approach was later confirmed by a study carried out by ILO's regional programme ASIST Asia Pacific Programme (ASIST-AP), which carried out a comparative study between the use of labour-based technology and conventional equipment-intensive work methods.
Equally, the Government of Cambodia endorsed LBAT as the technology of choice for its rural infrastructure works programme. In support of this important decision, the “Upstream Project” - ILO Technical Assistance to the Labour-Based Rural Infrastructure Works Programme, was formulated. This four-year project became operational on 1st July 1998, and had four capacity building targets:
  • To increase the capacity of the private sector by training small-scale contractors (SSC) to carry out the rural infrastructure works using Labour-Based Appropriate Technology;
  • To assist the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), in instructing and institutionalizing five engineering courses that include aspects of labour-based appropriate technologies;
  • To assist the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure that rural infrastructure investments are protected, while simultaneously preparing assumption of the maintenance responsibilities;
  • To improve the institutional capacity in the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD).

Labour-based Works

With the launching of the ILO/ADB (Asian Development Bank) Mainstreaming Labour-based Road Maintenance Pilot Project, funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) and the Government of Cambodia, the intention was to demonstrate (i) how the application of labour-based road works technology in the maintenance of public roads can increase the direct poverty reduction impact and (ii) how to promote the efficient management of road maintenance funds through decentralized channels, essentially through the provincial authorities.

With the initial start-up in 2006, this project provided a series of training courses to local government staff and small-scale private contractors in the project area in road periodic and routine maintenance works, including key subjects such as labour-based road works technology, road maintenance, quality assurance and material testing and contracts management.

As part of the project outputs, efforts were made to establish sound practices for the application of low cost bituminous surfacing on 160 km of secondary and tertiary gravel roads, on which traffic levels require improved surface treatments.

The project envisaged the application of low-cost bituminous surface sealing using innovative specifications which can also make effective use of natural gravels as aggregate instead of more expensive crushed stone, which is scarce and often has to be transported from long distances at high costs. The project constructed several trial sections, applying Otta Seal technology using laterite with emulsions and varying specifications in order to compare their performances to low-cost conventional surface dressings.

The principal project achievements include the generation of 2.7 million workdays of direct employment, of which 43 per cent were women; rehabilitation of six irrigation systems and the organization of water user groups; rehabilitation of 475 km of roads and the maintenance of 565 km of roads; adoption by the Government of the labour-based approach; and introduction of labour-based technology courses at the Institute of Technology.

In the framework of the Rural Roads area, the EIIP has made good progress in implementing an Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project to demonstrate the potential for increasing the direct poverty reduction impact of road maintenance works. The project has established all necessary technical, financial and administrative systems for funds made available from both the ADB and the government of Cambodia.

Civil works contracts have been awarded to local construction firms and works are ongoing in three provinces. Small and medium sized contractors as well as government technical staff received extensive training in road maintenance works, including basic road works technology, surveying and setting out, quality control, laboratory testing and contracts management. The project has prepared a series of training manuals to support the training.

The country's new Strategic Plan for Rural Roads prepared by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) mentions that “The policy of MRD” is to use labour-based appropriate technology (LBAT) in the construction and maintenance of rural roads and gradual phasing out of the involvement of the public sector from rural road works with the progressive development of private sector capacity.

Between 2005 and 2007, EIIP implemented the ADB-funded “Mainstreaming Labor-Based Road Maintenance to the National Roads Network” project. The Project’s overall goal was to demonstrate the potential for increasing the direct poverty reduction impact of the national road network and mobilize road maintenance funds for the provincial governments. The Project pilot-tested sustainable decentralized finance and management of labor-intensive road maintenance. The outcomes included sustained employment and income for the rural poor through labor-intensive maintenance of roads under the Ministry of Public Works and (MPWT) and Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), preservation of existing rural road assets to secure sustainable access to education and health services, markets, and jobs; and the development of emerging small-scale private contractors in the project area that are trained in labor-intensive road maintenance techniques.

Urban Works

With regards to Urban Infrastructure and as part of an initiative to develop appropriate guidelines for its development and maintenance, the EIIP carried out urban works in a number of urban poor settlements on the outskirts of the city of Battambang. On the basis of this work, a set of guidelines was prepared on how such services can be provided through an approach relying on the use of local resources and community participation. The works consisted of improvement of surface water drainage, construction of footpaths, streets and access roads, sanitation works, provision of street lighting and improvement of playground facilities; as well as setting up of solid waste management arrangements.

Local Level Planning

ADB financed the Northwestern Rural Development Project (NRDP – 2002-2005), a poverty-reduction and rural development initiative through the establishment of physical infrastructures, improvement of socioeconomic conditions and enhancement of rural livelihood in the north-western provinces through the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD).

The NRDP had an IRAP/GIS component with the ILO providing technical assistance on the application of the Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning (IRAP) procedure. The component assisted MRD in institutionalizing IRAP at the central and district levels as a rural infrastructure planning tool. The IRAP/GIS Office established, as a part of the overall support (human resources, equipment, hardware, software and procedures), the mechanism to attain project objectives.
The IRAP/GIS office also reinforced the Planning Department and the Rural Roads Department (RRD) and its respective provincial offices for the planning and monitoring of rural road networks. The Project supported provincial planning activities of the Provincial Department for Rural Development (PDRD) in the identification and prioritizing of future investments under NRDP.

Employment and Investment Policies

In 2008, the EIIP began supporting the development of the Cambodian National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS). A public works programme has been designed as an integral part of the NSPS to provide employment to the poor and vulnerable of the population, creating sustainable infrastructure assets which will support their economic and social development.

Further Reading