ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

274th Session
Geneva, March 1999

Committee on Technical Cooperation



Global programmes (including IPEC): Further information


I. International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC)

II. International Programme on More and Better Jobs for Women (WOMEMP)

III. Strategies and Tools against Social Exclusion and Poverty (STEP)

IV. International Small Enterprise Programme (ISEP)

1. In March 1998, the Office provided information to the Committee on Technical Cooperation on the global programme concept and on the specific programmes being developed and implemented.(1) This paper provides an update on the programmes as requested by the Committee. These programmes are at different stages of development. IPEC is now a well-established, well-known and relatively mature programme. Two others, the International Programme on More and Better Jobs for Women (WOMEMP) and the global programme on Strategies and Tools against Social Exclusion and Poverty (STEP) are in the early stages of implementation. The International Small Enterprise Programme (ISEP) was launched in 1998. The development of a programme on the Promotion of Social Dialogue and Industrial Relations is still being considered.

I. International Programme for the Elimination
of Child Labour (IPEC)

2. IPEC continued to expand its coverage in 1998 both in terms of countries covered and the number of financial contributors. With respect to the former, five new countries (Madagascar, Mali, Paraguay, South Africa and Uganda ) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the ILO in 1998 bringing the total number of formal partnerships to 34. In addition IPEC was cooperating less formally with an additional 31 countries. The current list of IPEC partners is given below:

Participating countries (Memorandum of Understanding -- MOU):


Benin, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania


Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand



Latin America and
the Caribbean:

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela


Preparatory countries


Burundi, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Malawi, Morocco, Niger, Rwanda, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Arab States:

Jordan, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic, West Bank and Gaza, Yemen


China, Mongolia, Viet Nam


Albania, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Ukraine

Latin America and
the Caribbean:

Colombia, Haiti, Mexico, Uruguay


3. With respect to financial support, first-time contributions came from Austria, Finland, Japan, Poland, Switzerland and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation in 1998. Sweden has now also joined. Additional commitments were made in 1998 by older donors (France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States). Apart from its contribution to IPEC, Norway also finances child labour projects executed through the Bureaux for Workers' and Employers' Activities. The recent initiatives of social partners in Italy and Japan to provide financial support for IPEC has been most encouraging. At the end of 1998, the United States made a major commitment of $29.5 million to the programme for 1999. A major challenge for future resource mobilization is to secure higher levels of core funding as opposed to funding for specific projects. Core funding is important, inter alia, because it facilitates long-term planning, gives IPEC a better capacity to achieve an overall balance in the distribution of country programmes and ensure effective programmes to document the extent and nature of child labour, to respond quickly to urgent requests and to take advantage quickly of new opportunities.

Highlights of activities in 1998

4. The main clusters of IPEC's substantive activities related to --

  1. policy-level activities;
  2. action against the worst form of child labour;
  3. mainstreaming successful approaches into larger programmes;
  4. workplace monitoring and social protection as a promising new approach to address child labour problems;
  5. improving the knowledge base.

(a) Advocacy at the policy level

5. At the national policy level, in order to improve the legislation and practice of member States in combating child labour, IPEC promoted the ratification and observance of Convention No. 138, disseminated information on the work on the proposed instruments on the worst forms of child labour and generated wider understanding of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Eleven of the 33 countries that have signed the ILO-IPEC MOU have ratified Convention No. 138, one (the United Republic of Tanzania has ratified but has still to register formally with the ILO) and a further 13 are considering ratification. IPEC was also involved in the preparations for the proposed new ILO standards on child labour.

6. Recognizing the important role played by civil society in the campaign against child labour, IPEC supported various initiatives, including the Global March against Child Labour. IPEC mobilized partner organizations in the field to support the march and provided assistance to its international secretariat. IPEC also continued to expand cooperation with workers' and employers' organizations. Concerning the former, two important programmes with trade unions were launched in Thailand in 1998, while in India there were activities to reinforce trade union participation in child labour projects. At the international level, IPEC continued to collaborate with Education International on a project to mobilize teachers to combat child labour. IPEC also aimed to coordinate its national activities with those of the international trade union campaign against child labour. As regards cooperation with employers' organizations, one major output was the publication of the Employers' handbook on child labour by the International Organization of Employers (IOE) with ILO support. At the field level, employers' organizations also participated in a wide range of activities and were partners in some of IPEC's most innovative programmes, particularly in the field of workplace monitoring and social protection.

(b) Action against the worst forms of child labour

7. Activities in this field aim to deal, inter alia, with: children in bondage, trafficking of children, children in prostitution, domestic labour, commercial agriculture, mining, fishing operations, quarrying, manufacturing industries and the informal sector. Although slower than hoped, there has been some progress in Asia, Africa and Central America. A study of child trafficking in eight Asian countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam) has led to action both at country and subregional level. A major pilot programme on bonded labour was launched in 1998 in Pakistan. Work also continued on the removal of children from bonded labour in Nepal. In Latin America and the Caribbean several programmes were launched in 1998 in: Costa Rica (children in prostitution), Guatemala (children in stone quarries); Dominican Republic (children in stone quarries); and Peru (child labour in the mining industry). In Africa, a programme on the elimination of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Ethiopia, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda was approved in 1998. Other programmes focusing on commercial agriculture and children in domestic work and mining will also be implemented in Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the relatively new partner countries of francophone Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mali and Senegal), priority was given to action against the worst forms of child labour. Work on pipeline action programmes was done with respect to child labour in quarries and mines (Madagascar, Mali, Burkina Faso); scavengers (Senegal); hazardous work in agriculture and hazardous working conditions for apprentices in workshops (all countries); and child domestic workers (all countries). As recommended at a subregional workshop, further work will be done on the trafficking of children in Central and West Africa as the basis for follow-up action.

(c) Mainstreaming successful approaches

8. The experience gained has strengthened IPEC's capacity to pursue a mainstreaming strategy which ensures that the root causes of child labour are systematically addressed in national development policies and programmes, backed by budgetary provisions. Sustaining the positive changes initiated by IPEC requires considerable investment in capacity building. Therefore IPEC assisted partner organizations and national institutions to develop the mechanisms required to promote, monitor and coordinate the activities of all actors. Results of the mainstreaming strategy were seen in Indonesia, for example, where child labour components were integrated into the Government's national poverty alleviation programme. In Turkey and Thailand the demonstration effects of two small pilot projects led the authorities to expand the experience.

(d) Monitoring and social protection

9. A strategy of withdrawing children from work must be systematic and comprehensive if it is to be effective in the long term. Alternative sources of income need to be provided, while removal has to be backed by sustained workplace monitoring and inspection. Many national services, including education, law enforcement and social welfare need to be mobilized for the task. The monitoring systems require the active involvement of the employers, manufacturers and their partners (such as contractors and subcontractors, workers' representatives, local community groups and relevant government agencies). IPEC has been a partner in some major initiatives to remove children from certain industries, such as the garments industry in Bangladesh, the soccer ball industry in Pakistan and its international counterparts, and the carpet industry in Pakistan. The activities have led to positive changes in the attitudes and practice of the communities as families have been willing to withdraw their children from work and send them to school. The initiatives have also led to new forms of collaboration between national and international agencies to achieve these objectives.

(e) Improving the knowledge basis

10. A sound information base is a key requirement for developing effective strategies to eliminate child labour. The Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC), a joint programme with the ILO's Bureau of Statistics, was launched in 1998. Under SIMPOC, staff of national statistical offices are trained to design and carry out child labour surveys, which should become part of the regular national statistical programmes. The results are also used by IPEC to improve the targeting of its work. It is also projected that information systems will be developed at the regional and international levels. To date child labour surveys have been conducted in 11 countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand and Turkey). New surveys are under way in 14 countries.

Evaluation initiatives

11. An overall performance review is carried out at annual ILO-IPEC International Programme Steering Committee meetings. In accordance with established ILO procedures, IPEC activities have always been subject to both self-evaluations and independent reviews. Traditionally, most evaluations have been done for individual projects. However, a programme of this size and mode of operation lends itself and indeed requires this to be complemented by other approaches. Hence IPEC has also been executing general country evaluations, evaluations of IPEC-specific support to a country and thematic evaluations, in addition to individual IPEC action programme evaluations.

12. In 1997 seven country evaluations were undertaken by independent national research and evaluation teams in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, Brazil and Turkey. These assessed the overall progress made in combating child labour and are not restricted to IPEC programmes. The results became available in late 1997-98 and will inform further policy and programme development and provide input for best practice guides. Three country evaluations are planned for 1999.

13. Various thematic evaluations were planned in 1996-97, but owing to increased demands on IPEC it was possible to execute only two, one on the pre-vocational training components of IPEC-supported programmes in five Asian countries, the other on 13 country studies on action against child labour through education in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 1999 an evaluation is planned on the effectiveness of income generation and poverty alleviation efforts in addressing child labour.

14. Independent evaluations of individual action programmes have been a standard practice since IPEC's inception. Because of cost considerations they are usually reserved for larger action programmes or those with significance for future programme development, either in terms of making decisions on future IPEC support and/or to identify the conceptual and methodological adjustments required.

15. Various steps were taken to strengthen the evaluation function. Of major significance was the establishment of an IPEC Programming and Evaluation Unit in 1998 as part of the rationalization of the IPEC staffing structure at headquarters. This will ensure close links between evaluation and programme development and that lessons learned are systematically integrated into future programme activities.

Organizational issues

16. The staffing situation in 1998 reflected the programme's expansion. In the 1992-93 biennium there were six officials at headquarters (five Professionals) and 19 field officials. In 1996-97 headquarters officials numbered 14 (nine Professionals) and field officials 51. For 1998-99 the staffing situation is 20 officials at headquarters (15 Professionals) and 60 in the field. There was also a reorganization and redefinition of functions at headquarters to meet the challenges of expansion more effectively. A similar exercise for field staff started in 1998 and should be completed by mid-1999.

17. IPEC continued to collaborate with various ILO departments and bureaux with which joint programmes were often developed and implemented. At the field level, IPEC collaboration with area offices was extremely important in programme implementation, and child labour issues were generally well reflected in the country objectives of programme countries. The multidisciplinary teams provided technical advice and input as required, and it is foreseen that their involvement will be strengthened in the future. National steering committees provided the oversight function at the national level, while the International Programme Steering Committee plays an essential role in reviewing overall policy, priorities and programme activities. Participation in this latter Committee has greatly increased with the expansion of the programme. Other UN agencies, specifically UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO, have observer status in the Committee. In the future it may be necessary to expand UN participation in view of the likely adoption of a new instrument on child labour in 1999 and the strengthened UN system cooperation it may require. The role and functioning of the Committee is currently under review.

18. ILO-IPEC has taken steps to streamline and simplify administrative and financial arrangements relating to the programme to facilitate rapid response and to achieve the flexibility required for effective programme implementation, without losing sight of the need for quality control and accountability. There has already been a marked improvement in the response time of IPEC headquarters to requests from the field.

Future strategic priorities and challenges

19. Some major elements of the environment for IPEC's future work will include: the growing commitment of countries facing the problem to act effectively against the problem of child labour; the growing international movement against child labour; the likely adoption of a new Convention on action against the worst forms of child labour in June 1999; and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up.

20. A major challenge is the sheer scale of the problem and the number of children involved in hazardous and exploitative forms of work. Given the limited national capacity to deal with the problems, demand for assistance from ILO-IPEC is constantly growing. IPEC itself needs to be strengthened to be able to respond adequately to this demand. Finally, it is essential for quality control mechanisms which keep issues of efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability at the forefront of programme concerns to be in step with programme expansion. Hence, the programme must ensure excellence in its monitoring and evaluation function.

21. To address these challenges, IPEC's strategy in the next period will involve:

II. International Programme on More and Better
Jobs for Women (WOMEMP)

22. WOMEMP focuses on the elimination of gender discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. In so doing, the programme necessarily addresses all the other fundamental rights and principles enshrined in the Constitution of the ILO and the Declaration of Philadelphia and reaffirmed in the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. It is the ILO's specific contribution to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform of Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women and of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development


23. In 1998 the programme operated with three officials (two Professional and one General Service), one Professional seconded from the United Kingdom Government, four interns, one associate expert, one short-term secretarial assistant and one short-term external collaborator.

Review of activities

24. At the International Labour Conference in June 1998 the programme was the subject of an informal tripartite meeting at the ministerial level, which was organized to obtain feedback from ILO constituents and to mobilize support and resources. The programme was strongly endorsed by the meeting.

25. In the past year, work has focused on identifying key problems and issues, further developing the programme strategy and preparing national action plans. Considerable effort was also invested in publicizing the programme, awareness-raising and fund-raising initiatives. Planning and initial research work were also undertaken to provide a sound foundation for the programme. Consistent with the general approach of the global programmes, WOMEMP has been operating at the international and national level. At the international level, a range of WOMEMP activities aimed both to support and to draw on technical cooperation activities within countries. These international activities are of three main types:

26. In 1998, activities related to this international dimension included:

27. A joint World Bank/ILO study examining export processing zones (EPZs) is nearing completion. The project analysed how EPZs have evolved in the context of globalization and economic reforms, the impact on the quantity and quality of women's employment and the status of women within their families. Detailed case studies are being prepared on Malaysia and Sri Lanka, for which surveys have already been conducted at the enterprise level and at the individual worker level, including a tracer study on women who previously worked in the zones.

28. At the national level, WOMEMP has been providing technical assistance to ILO constituents in selected countries to formulate and implement national action plans to improve the quantity and quality of women's employment and working conditions. Apart from the social partners, representatives of relevant government ministries and agencies, civil groups and the donor community in the countries concerned have been associated with the process. The strategies outlined in the national action plans help the countries to promote and realize the fundamental principles relating to women workers while simultaneously ensuring that women's employment leads also to poverty eradication, sustainable development and the effective use of human resources. Particular attention is given to the protection of the most vulnerable groups of women workers. By March 1998, action plans had been completed for Estonia, Pakistan and the United Republic of Tanzania. Subsequently plans were finalized for Croatia, Burkina Faso and Mexico. A further plan for the West Bank and Gaza Strip is under completion. The following are summary descriptions of the national action plans showing how the interrelated objectives are being met.

29. The Republic of Croatia approached WOMEMP for assistance to implement its National Policy for the Promotion of Equality, the main priority of which is to systematically implement legislation guaranteeing women and men equal pay for equal work and work of equal value. Although Croatia ratified the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100) in 1991, it identified the barriers to implementation as the lack of expertise to establish job evaluation systems and the lack of national statistics disaggregated by sex. The national action plan therefore focuses on the development of job evaluation systems to evaluate work of equal value and training to strengthen the national capacity to implement equal pay principles. It also emphasizes that the promotion of equal pay has to go hand in hand with the more effective implementation of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111).

30. Estonia: WOMEMP launched its programme in Estonia in January 1999 with support and funding from the Government of Finland. In this transitional country, the targeted interventions for women focus on the most economically disadvantaged and poorest regions, so that self-employment and entrepreneurship development for women go hand in hand with balanced regional development and poverty alleviation. With growing unemployment and poverty, women's employment is critical not only to family welfare but also to the development of local economies.

31. Pakistan has ratified Convention No. 111 but there are still several instances where the application of labour legislation is discriminatory against women workers and enforcement mechanisms need to be strengthened. WOMEMP will therefore be supporting the Government and social partners to promote legal literacy for women workers, and to strengthen the capacity of policy-makers and planners in key government ministries and employers' and workers' organizations. Practical activities initially focus on the needs of working women in home-based production. The awareness-raising and sensitization programmes will give special attention to the links between productive employment for women and the increase in family welfare and schooling for children and the reduction of child labour.

32. Mexico: The Government and social partners with the support of WOMEMP have already formally established institutional structures and arrangements at the national and provincial levels to promote gender equality, although funding for the national programme has still to be secured. There are provisions for a legal literacy module aimed at a wide target audience, and training for labour inspectors. A committee has also been set up in the state of Coahuila to implement targeted interventions for women in the maquiladora industries, focusing on improved working conditions, enhanced participation of women in trade unions and improved industrial relations with employers.

33. Burkina Faso and United Republic of Tanzania: in very poor countries such as these, the strategy of the programme is an integral part of efforts aimed at poverty alleviation and the reduction of child labour. The employment generation schemes for poor women also emphasize group mobilization and organization. They provide for trainers and facilitators to help women in rural areas and the informal sector to create and organize their own networks and support structures for improved access to such facilities as technical training, micro-credit, marketing support and labour-saving technology.

34. West Bank and Gaza Strip: A special report of the Secretary-General submitted to the forty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women highlighted a number of concerns regarding women in Palestine and the occupied territories. WOMEMP has attempted to address these concerns through its national action plan for the area, including promoting the effective mainstreaming of gender concerns in macroeconomic planning and labour market policies, so as to improve both the quantity and quality of jobs for women and to practically demonstrate that such improvements benefit not only the women themselves, but also their families and local communities. WOMEMP's programme has already been included in the three-year Palestinian development plan and is expected to attract considerable donor support.


35. To date the programme has mainly relied on regular budget funding, with extra-budgetary contributions from various sources such as the United Kingdom and Finland. The Government of the United Kingdom, through its Department for International Development (DFID), has supported the programme by seconding a social development adviser for a period of two years. The DFID has also indicated its interest in funding national activities. The Government of Finland has provided some funding for the implementation of the Estonian National Action Plan. Since WOMEMP has a major role to play in follow-up on the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work, it is expected that it will attract extra- budgetary resources in this context.

Future priorities

36. The programme aims to pursue on a larger scale the activities initiated to date. It is now poised to move into a phase of full implementation. This will encompass support to the implementation of selected national action plans, with systematic monitoring and evaluation of progress and impact; phased publication of programme manuals, guidelines and other outputs; staging of technical meetings and other events to present research findings, raise awareness and propose action on emerging issues of global concern; and sharing and widespread dissemination of programme experience.

III. Strategies and Tools against Social Exclusion
and Poverty (STEP)

37. The programme is part of concrete ILO follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development and the ILO's major response to the fact that a growing majority of people are excluded from any form of social protection. STEP is located in the Planning, Development and Standards Branch of the ILO's Social Security Department (SEC/SOC). The programme contributes to the development of innovative, complementary and effective means of providing social protection, since traditional mechanisms on their own appear unable to meet the challenge in the near future. Such work is urgently required to deal with the negative consequences of globalization, macroeconomic stabilization policies, structural adjustment programmes and transition strategies.


38. STEP's central programme unit comprises four specialists (three in Geneva, one in Turin) and one associate expert. A regional programme office for Africa was set up in Dakar in January 1999 with one specialist, one associate expert and one national expert. Four associate experts serve as focal points in the field. Three are based in ILO offices in Bangkok, Manila and Santiago, and one is posted in Baku, Azerbaijan. By April 1999, two additional focal points should be in place in Lima and Port-au-Prince (Haiti).

Review of activities

39. The programme became fully operational in April 1998 when the final agreement was signed with Belgium, the core donor. Its central theme has been the extension of social protection, with a secondary focus on strategies of social inclusion through local economic development. Gender has been a cross-cutting concern and there has been a strong demand from women's organizations for assistance on health micro-insurance.

40. The broad framework for STEP's activities has been a major international initiative launched by the programme to extend the coverage of social protection and to enhance its effectiveness. It involves the development and dissemination of a new concept of "micro-insurance". STEP is actively contributing to the development of the concept, which holds considerable promise as a basis for developing systems to democratize access to insurance and social protection systems. While the concept is applicable to many spheres of activity, partners have identified health care financing as a high priority for action and much of the early work has focused on this area.

41. There were three main elements in STEP's programme implementation strategy with reference to which all STEP activities were executed:

  1. The first element of the strategy involved developing the knowledge base and expertise on social protection and micro-insurance. Two main groups of activities were pursued:
    1. Knowledge development: Activities aimed to establish a comprehensive overview of international experience and knowledge of the extension of social protection and micro-insurance to inform practical action in the future. Apart from STEP's own research and conceptual work to guide its operational activities, a documentation system has been set up and is integrated into the ILO's central library's database services to ensure sustainability and to maximize access. Various bibliographical materials were published, including an annotated bibliography on social security systems for the informal sector. Needs identification exercises were conducted and a general survey of micro-insurance experience launched. A number of in-depth case studies are being conducted in Africa, Latin America and Asia which will be the basis for continuous analytical and conceptual work that will guide practical action.
    2. Developing networks of micro-insurance practitioners and actors: This is a major instrument for achieving greater effectiveness in developing and disseminating knowledge and practical tools, as well as for advocacy and resource mobilization. The networking process was initiated involving a wide range of partners, including social partners, international mutualist organizations such as Alliance International de la Mutualité (AIM), International Health Cooperative Organization (IHCO), Alliance nationale de la Mutualité chrétienne de la Belgique (ANMC), Grameen (Bangladesh) and SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association) in India; major non-governmental organizations and international research centres, including the Universities of Liège, Harvard, Aix-en-Provence, Sussex, Quebec, Granada, Heidelberg, Oslo and Bonn.
  1. The second element of the strategy involved reinforcing the ILO's service capacity in STEP's field of work both at the policy advisory level and in terms of strengthening the technical skills of the social partners and national and community-based organizations. In the process of delivering services at all levels, from national to local, STEP distils the total programme experience and expertise and maximizes its use and impact. Activities included the production and dissemination of publications, training packages and information; providing advisory services on policy formulation, project design and implementation; and, in collaboration with the Turin Centre, developing and implementing training programmes. STEP activities are undertaken in collaboration with the ILO's field structure, constituents and other partners and are intended to serve as a catalyst to achieve a critical mass of activities at the local level.
  2. The third element of the strategy involved advocacy of the ILO concept and approach and active resource mobilization initiatives: STEP established working partnerships or contacts with various international organizations (UNDP, UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF, UNCDF, UNCTAD, European Union) and bilateral aid agencies (Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, USAID, GTZ) and contacts were made with large private foundations. Technical partnerships with funding agencies have often also provided an important basis for resource mobilization initiatives.

42. STEP collaborated with other ILO units including ACTRAV, POLDEV, ENT/MAN and the Turin Centre. It also worked with the International Institute for Labour Studies (INST) to develop practical applications of the latter's research on social exclusion. INST is also a member of STEP's scientific committee. STEP intends to pursue such collaborative arrangements systematically to maximize the efficiency and impact of its work.

Activities by region

43. The table on the following pages indicates highlights of various STEP activities presented by region.


44. The main source of funding was the Belgian contribution of $8.2 million. Belgium and the Netherlands financed four associate experts each. Discussions are ongoing with various donors for the funding of planned activities, including the UNDP, UNFPA, the Netherlands, the Flemish Government, Belgium, Portugal, USAID and France. Some should soon be concluded. Certain activities in which STEP is involved are already financed or co-financed by collaborating organizations such as UNDP, UNCDF, UNFPA, USAID, WHO, ICHO, and the Governments of Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and France. A high priority is to mobilize resources for the proposals prepared.




Co-organizer of the "Abidjan Meeting" in June 1998, with USAID, ANMC, WSM and ACOPAM, which gathered all the main actors in health micro-insurance in West and Central Africa (representatives of 50 organizations) to develop a consensus on strategies to support mutual health organizations in Africa and to initiate advocacy and resource mobilization for the sector. As requested by the meeting, STEP edited, published and disseminated the conclusions, known as the "Abidjan Platform" in January 1999 which sets out a foundation for follow-up action. One of the meeting's conclusions was that a major joint regional initiative to promote health micro-insurance in Africa should be launched. STEP was requested to organize a regional technical unit to coordinate the initiative. With the ILO's Regional Office for Africa, the unit was established in Dakar in January 1999 which is supported to date by ten partners.

Organization in November 1998 of a workshop of African practitioners with the aim of revising the training manual on mutual health organizations. It is being finalized and should be published by mid-1999.

Participation in the Turin Centre's ACTRAV training programme for French-, Portuguese- and Arabic-speaking countries in Africa on the provision of social services for trade union members in 1998.


Participation in the study on "The contribution of health mutuals to the financing and delivery of, and access to, health care in nine West and Central African countries", based on 22 case studies (with USAID/PHR (Partnership for Health Reform), ANMC, WSM and ILO/ACOPAM). The English version was published in January 1999. STEP is also responsible for the French version, which will be published by mid-1999.

Development of a project proposal: "Micro-insurance for basic health in favour of women and children in four West African countries: Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso and Guinea".

East and Southern

Review of experiences on micro-insurance. Ongoing discussions for a joint plan of action with USAID and PHR.

Preparation of a project proposal for the United Republic of Tanzania.

Preparation of a project proposal for Mauritius; formulation mission financed by UNDP.


Identification of national needs and formulation of national projects in the five countries programmed for 1999. First mission completed in February 1999 in São Tome.

Latin America


Preparation with the ILO's Regional Office of a plan of action for the extension of social protection and of a regional meeting on the subject scheduled for December 1999 in Mexico. Launch of a series of micro-insurance case-studies. A preparatory meeting is scheduled for February 1999 in collaboration with PAHO and the Universities of Heidelberg and Granada.


Project preparation with ISEP. Three STEP advisory missions financed by UNDP. With the Turin Centre a national seminar on micro-insurance was organized in December 1998 with co-financing from UNDP and Canada.

Chile and Peru

Two trade union projects were developed in collaboration with ACTRAV.



Advisory services provided to the Government and a project document developed (December 1998). Close collaboration with WHO (joint mission).


Discussions held with the World Bank for possible collaboration on a project on access to health services in rural China. Close collaboration with WHO.


Joint identification mission (August 1998) with the WHO resulting in a draft project document based on participation of WHO, ILO and IHCO.


At SEWA's request a detailed case study of the social insurance system was started and will be published in 1999.


Publication by STEP of awareness brochure in Thai on micro-insurance for informal sector workers. Identification of partners and field experience.


Identification of micro-insurance experience and launch of case studies. Participation in a regional seminar on "Lessons from the development of micro-insurance in Asia" (November 1998).


Identification mission undertaken. A project proposal will be finalized by mid-1999 to test a micro-insurance approach.



Study undertaken on the social protection mutual "Flandria", in collaboration with the University of Sussex (United Kingdom). To be published mid-1999.


Development of a project on social exclusion with UNDP and UNHCR.


Poverty alleviation mission for UNDP, with the ILO Turin Centre.


A study of "social inclusion strategies" in Portugal will be undertaken by STEP in 1999 at the request of the Ministry of Labour and in the framework of a working group on social exclusion of DGA/V of the European Commission.


Preparation of an interregional project proposal entitled "Social insurance for rural women in the informal sector" with Harvard University.

Preparation of a manual on the evaluation of health micro-insurance systems in collaboration with the CIDR (Centre International de Dévéloppement et de Recherche) which will be published in 1999.


IV. International Small Enterprise Programme (ISEP)

45. This programme was launched in mid-1998 and aims to consolidate and expand the ILO's efforts to promote small enterprise development. It provides a new multidisciplinary and integrated framework for all ILO activities in this field. Under ISEP, small enterprises include micro-enterprises in both the formal and the informal sectors, as well as medium-sized enterprises and various forms of cooperative enterprises and business associations. The main areas of the programme's substantive work are: policy support for small enterprises; job quality; business development services; business management training; and mainstreaming a gender perspective in all ISEP activities. ISEP is the main ILO vehicle to help member States apply the provisions of the Job Creation in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Recommendation, 1998 (No. 189), adopted by the International Labour Conference in 1998, which deals with both qualitative and quantitative dimensions of small enterprise development. ISEP is based on the systematic and effective integration of standards-related issues -- especially those that have a bearing on the qualitative dimension of the working environment -- into business development programmes. This lends particular added value to the ILO's contribution to work in this field. One of the benefits of being organized as a global programme is that the impact and outreach will be maximized through the capitalization and dissemination functions of ISEP. Similarly, ISEP's holistic perspective means that a multidisciplinary approach is built into working methods and is an essential ingredient for success. Its strategy to achieve this does not involve the multiplication of disciplines within the parent unit, but effective cooperation and collaboration with a range of other ILO programmes and units in which the complementary capacities reside.

Organizational arrangements

46. ISEP's organizational arrangements differ from those of the other active global programmes. Instead of a new programme unit, overall responsibility for the development, management and implementation of the programme is discharged by the Entrepreneurship and Management Development Branch (ENT/MAN). Its Small Enterprise Development Branch has been restructured for this purpose into five subgroups, each of which focuses on one of the main areas of ISEP's substantive work. The parent unit's principal technical focus is on the business-related dimension while it works with other parts of the ILO structure for essential specialist services in other fields such as child labour, occupational safety and health and social protection.

47. The ILO's field structure (area offices and multidisciplinary teams) is being gradually involved in ISEP activities, for example disseminating information on the programme, providing advisory services, identifying needs and planning and implementing field projects.

Review of activities

48. The following activities are of note:

New ISEP publications

49. The following publications are of interest:


50. Although ISEP was officially launched in June 1998, its orientations influenced programme development before that date. As from 1998, approximately $7 million was sourced for projects implemented within the ISEP framework.

Future priorities

51. These include the following:

Geneva, 26 February 1999.

1. GB.271/TC/4.

Updated by VC. Approved by RH. Last update: 26 January 2000.