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

Already in 1992, 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 already 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.

The competitiveness of the technology and approach was later confirmed by a study carried out by ILO's regional 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 has endorsed LBAT as the technology of choice for its rural infrastructure works programme. In support of this important decision, the project "ILO Technical Assistance to the Labour-Based Rural Infrastructure Works Programme, CMB/97/M02/SID", known as the 'Upstream Project', 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. The project has been involved with the training of 22 small-scale contractors, follow up studies indicate that the small-scale contractors are thriving.
  • To assist the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), in instructing and institutionalising five engineering courses that include aspects of labour-based appropriate technologies. The project is also sponsoring the Institute of Technology of Cambodia to carry out research into Cambodian laterite characteristics.
  • To assist the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure that rural infrastructure investments are protected, while simultaneously preparing assumption of the maintenance responsibilities. The project is demonstrating best practices by implementing construction and maintenance works in the Siem Reap, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces.
  • To improve the institutional capacity in the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD). The overall aim is to assist the Ministry of Rural Development to link the planning of rural infrastructure so that it will lead to investments with the maximum desired impact.

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

With the initial start-up in 2006, this project has now 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. The training has been conducted through formal classroom session as well as on-the-job training carried out on full-scale training work sites.

The project has recently completed a base-line survey that will be used in future impact assessments. Equally, it has also carried out an extensive road condition survey in the three north-eastern provinces as a basis for its road maintenance work programme.

As part of the project outputs, efforts are made to establish sound practises 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 envisage 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 recently constructed several trial sections applying Otta Seal technology using laterite with emulsions and varying specifications to study their performance compared to low-cost conventional surface dressings.

Rural roads

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 now established all necessary technical, financial and administrative systems for funds made available from both the ADB and the Government. 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….”

Urban infrastructure

As part of an initiative to develop appropriate guidelines for development and maintenance of urban community infrastructure, EIIP carried out urban works in the Chamka Samrong Muoy settlement on the outskirts of the city of Battambang. On the basis of this work, a first 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.

Further reading

  • Rural Infrastructure Publication No. 4, Jobs or machines - Comparative Analysis of Rural Road Work in Cambodia - PDF 1,258 Kb
    Paul Munters, International Labour Organisation, 2003
  • Socio Economic Series No 9. Rural Transporters, A Survey of Transport Business in Rural Cambodia
    Bas Rozemuller, Panha Thou and Samrith Yan, International Labour Organisation
  • Socio Economic Series No 8. Rural Transport Studies, Three Baseline Surveys in Cambodia - PDF 2,083 Kb
    Bas Rozemuller, Panha Thou and Samrith Yan, International Labour Organisation, January 2002
  • Pavement Options Series No 1. Labour Based Stone Paved Roads - PDF 4,400 Kb
    Samer Al-Fayad, International Labour Organisation, December 2001
  • Socio Economic Series No 7. Labour Contractors Progress Survey - PDF 1,640 Kb
    Chhieu Veyara and Dara Johnston, International Labour Organisation, August 2001
  • Socio Economic Series No 6. Outcomes of ILO support to the Bovel and Barai Irrigation Systems - PDF 1,895 Kb
    Warren Hoye, Internationla Labour Organisation, August 2001
  • Socio Economic Series No 5. Evaluation of Farm Level Impact of Barai Irrigation System - PDF 2,755 Kb
    Allebachew Kassie, International Labour Organisation, May 2001
  • Socio Economic Series No 4, Rural Inland Water Transport - PDF 2,031 Kb
    Damien Vella, International Labour Organisation, January 2001
  • Socio Economic Series No 3, Household Travel and Transport Analysis - PDF 2,068 Kb
    Bas Rozemuller, Panha Thou and Samrith Yan, International Labour Organisation, September 2000
  • Socio Economic Series No 2, Employment in ILO supported Road Construction and Maintenance - PDF 511 Kb
    Judith Zweers and Alebachew Kassie, International Labour Organisation, August 2000
  • Socio Economic Series No 1, Traffic Characteristics around Puok Market - PDF 5,827 Kb
    Bas Rozemuller, Sovithea Khun and Samrith Yan, International Labour Organisation, February 2000

Last Update: 21.07.2009 ^ top