Labour-based road works
The Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications (MOWTC) introduced
labour-based routine maintenance of the trunk roads using "lengthmen"
and local labour contractors recruited from the villages close to the roads.
Some 5500 km of trunk roads have been put under labour-based routine
maintenance. The ILO through ASIST has helped the Ministry in the training of
key staff and the development of contract management procedures and documents
for this new maintenance system.
The ILO was responsible for the preparatory work for the Feeder Roads
Component of the World Bank-supported Transport Rehabilitation Project, under
the Ministry of Local Government (MOLG), which started in 1995. Trained local
contractors using labour-based methods carried out rehabilitation and
maintenance works in four districts on a trial basis. The Nordic Development
Fund financed the technical assistance component, which was provided by
Norconsult A/S whilst ASIST provides advisory and monitoring services for
Labour-based Policy Promotion Committee (LAPCOMM)
Under the ILO DANIDA Multilateral Cooperation Programme, a three-year project
"Support to the Labour-based Policy Promotion Committee" was launched
in September 1997. The Committee consisted of Ministry of Local Government (MOLG),
Minstry of Planning and Economic Developme (MPED) and Ministry of Works,
Transport and Communication (MoWTC). The project aimed at promoting the
effective use of local resources and involved developing policies for the
integration of labour-based approaches into national planning process. The
Government of Uganda committed funds towards the implementation of the project
and included it in its Public Investment Plan.
Study on the Macro-economic Dimension of Labour-based Roadworks
In 1998 a study was carried out in order to evaluate the potential of using
employment-intensive technology in the rehabilitation of feeder roads as a means
of generating employment and combating poverty. The study concentrated on the
economic aspects rather than technical ones, since it is assumed that most
rehabilitation work on feeder roads can be carried out by labour as well as by
the use of heavy machinery. The central hypothesis of the study is that
labour-based approaches are viable and offer high employment potential, as well
as greater indirect benefits to the national economy than the conventional,
equipment-based technology. In order to test this hypothesis, empirical evidence
from feeder roads rehabilitation projects carried out in Uganda between 1993 and
1997 was compared.
The hypothesis was confirmed at several levels. The main conclusions indicate
that a switch towards more labour-based methods could generate very significant
benefits for the poor in the form of employment opportunities, and for the
country in terms of GDP and foreign exchange savings:
Labour-based methods are cheaper than equipment-based methods: in direct
financial terms they are 18% cheaper for full rehabilitation of feeder roads and
50% cheaper for spot rehabilitation
In economic terms, labour-based methods are even more advantageous: 38%
cheaper for full rehabilitation and 60% for spot rehabilitation
In terms of costs, labour-based works are competitive as long as the
unskilled daily wage does not exceed USD 4; the current rate in rural areas is
The employment generation effect is much higher for labour-based than for
equipment-based work: in the labour-based projects studied the proportion of the
cost spent on wages, mostly for the unskilled, ranged between 44% and 60%,
against 3% - 8% in equipment-based works.
The macro-economic model showed that the indirect effects were even greater
than the direct effects; for each job directly created another 2 jobs are
generated elsewhere in the economy through a multiplier effect.
An investment of US$ 23 million in feeder roads rehabilitation would generate
107,000 jobs (directly and indirectly) if carried out with labour as against
36,000 jobs if carried out with equipment (the GOU current investment in feeder
roads is estimated at Ug Shs 30 billion per annum)
Due to the savings in foreign exchange from not having to import heavy
equipment from abroad, the fiscal deficit of the investment would be 37% less
with labour-based methods than with equipment.
The Ugandan labour market grows by at least 300,000 young people each year.
With the formal sector being able to absorb less than 100,000 of them, the study
concludes that there is a strong case for making the wider application of
labour-based methods in infrastructure works a dynamic element in a strategy for
employment creation and poverty eradication.
Masulita Urban Upgrading Development Project
The post-war "Masulita Development Project", which started in 1993,
was funded by DANIDA and implemented and managed by the Ministry of Planning and
Economic Development (MPED), Labour-Based Intensive Work Unit (LIWU) with
technical advise from the ILO. The objectives of the project were (i) to
rehabilitate the infrastructure related to health, social and market services
(ii) to promote rural development projects and small business opportunities and
(iii) to create a sustainable development fund for the business promotion. The
urban upgrading infrastructure project, aimed to establish work methods suitable
for community-based upgrading of the infrastructure in unplanned settlement
areas and to test the use of community contracts in Kampala. The project
assisted the community by providing proper drainage to an area prone to regular
The project constructed 3.2 km of lined flood drains in close collaboration
and with support from the Kampala City Council and the residents of the project
area. The community members carried out all activities (paid labour) and
received on the job training. United Nations Development Programme provided the
investment funds for the project. Through the project, the infrastructure in
Masulita was been notably improved and the people provided with access to
knowledge and capital. The project ended in mid 1997. Unfortunately, due to lack
of maintenance and cleaning of the drain, large parts of the main drain became
blocked after the completion of the project. This implies that much more
emphasis has to be placed on the establishment of sustainable maintenance
agreements with the communities concerned.
- Support to the Labour-based Policy Promotion Committee: Terminal
J. Mutabazi, Government of Uganda, ILO, Danida, 2000.
- Project of the Government of Uganda UGA/97/ Support
to the labour-based policy promotion committee. Project document
Government of Uganda, 1997.
An opportunity for employment creation, labour-based technology in roadworks –
the macro-economic dimension
SETP No. 5. ILO
- Masulita rehabilitation
project. Project review report
Ms Wanyama, J. Ssekatatwa, E. Lyby, M. Kuiper, Government of Uganda; DanEduc A/S; ILO, 1995.