Advancing the Decent Work Agenda in North Africa (ADWA')

The ILO and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) have signed in November 2018 an agreement for a 5-year phase (2018-2023) for the project “Advancing the Decent Work Agenda in North Africa” (ADWA’). This phase builds on the 16 months pilot phase, which was successfully implemented throughout 2017 and 2018.

Geographical area of implementation: North Africa

Project Background

The ADWA’ project works at the upstream and policy-making level in order to support evidence-based decisions on different dimensions of the Decent Work Agenda. The focus of the project is to address together issues related to job rich growth, social and labour rights and the implementation of International Labour Standards, and the application of such policies by the private sector. These three aspects are fundamental for the development of the region, essential to advance towards the realization of the SDGs.

The project intervenes both at regional (North Africa) and at national levels, in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, with some specific activities carried out in Algeria. The multi-country approach also will enable the exchange of knowledge and experiences, generating also potential opportunities for South-South cooperation within the region and outside.

Decent work in North Africa

The North African countries are characterized by a series of similar labour market imbalances, which include high unemployment rates (the highest among the world regions), low level of economic activity and important levels of underemployment and precarious employment.

The youth (in the age group 15- 24) and the women are particularly vulnerable in North African labour markets: only one out of three young people is economically active, and among those who are participating to the labour market, one third is unemployed.

Among young women, the level of economic activity is as low as 20 percent. New entrants in the labour market are over-represented in the informal sector and in the underemployment. Around 30 percent of those who are employed (around 20 million people in the region in 2018) are in ‘vulnerable’ work and livelihood conditions.

Economic growth, even in the most dynamic periods, has not been able to sustainably reduce the existing labour market imbalances and reduce inequalities.

On the normative front, the countries of North Africa have a relative good record in the ratification of the 8 fundamental and 4 priority International Labour Conventions.

However, the de facto application of the relevant International Labour Standards (ILS) is still challenging: the formal ratification did not always go hand in hand with their actual implementation through the translation of norms and principles in the national legislation, or their implementation through the jurisprudence, resulting in some levels of exclusion from social and labour rights, especially for the most vulnerable (for example, for the workers of the informal sector).

Good practices in the implementation of the ILS in the private sectors, are often limited to niches and are far from being generalized.

The project focus: Supporting job-rich growth and enhancing the implementation of International Labour Standards and supporting the private sector in the application of such policies

The availability of more and better jobs for the North Africa, especially for the youth and women, requires action on the economic and on the social and rights fronts. From an economic perspective, the policy agenda in most of the North African countries is largely focused on maintaining macroeconomic stability and on improving the business environment.

These recipes alone have proven to be short in delivering job-rich growth, and in converting economic potential into sustained growth, available labour and skills into decent jobs. Public action in North Africa needs, therefore, to pursue more proactively a job-rich growth agenda: this is the first outcome the project will pursue, through the support to evidence generation and dissemination and the support of its use for decision making.The regional decent work challenge is not going to be met with success if the focus is only on the economic front.

Objectives and expected outcomes

The ADWA’ project will operate mainly at the upstream level with the aim of supporting evidence-based decision making for policy, programmes and institutional strengthening. A mix of implementing strategies is going to be adopted, including evidence generation (data and analysis), knowledge management, capacity strengthening/building, especially on the use of evidence for policy making, advocacy, and knowledge brokering and promotion of international labour and social standards.

The overall objective of the project is to provide effective support to national and regional partners to address the Decent Work deficits in North Africa. By the end of the project, North African countries will have adopted a more proactive and effective policy stance for job-rich growth; and a stronger compliance with labour and social rights will have been achieved and applied by the private sector

The overall objective of the project is to contribute to effectively address to the decent work deficits in North Africa, by pursuing the following outcomes and outputs:

Outcome 1: Policy stances in North Africa steer job-rich growth.

1.1 Key decision makers and stakeholders’ capacities are built to promote quality job creation and sustainable economic growth;
1.2 Governments in focus countries improve their macroeconomic analysis and policy diagnostic capacities for jobs and growth;
1.3. The Ministries of Employment/ Labour have enhanced capacities to fulfil more effectively their roles.

Outcome 2: Decision makers and influencers make better use of policy evidence to promote social and labour rights.

2.1. National parliaments and Governments in focus countries are better informed of ILS and of other key developments on the social and rights front;
2.2. ILS is better reflected in the national jurisprudence of focus countries;
2.3. The media and civil society are more knowledgeable of ILS and decent work and enrich the national discourse;

Outcome 3: The private sector and multinational companies engage to achieve decent work in different economic sectors

3.1: Labour standards are better applied in the telecommunication sector in Egypt;
3.2: Productivity and working conditions are improved in the Algerian automotive sector.