Employment Creation in Urban Areas (phase 2)

Development of a generic guide on integrated local development strategies for urban poor and pilot action programmes in partnership with local administrations in the Asia Pacific Region

Concept Note

Employment Creation in Urban Areas (phase 2)


In 2007, the ILO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (ROAP) and the Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP-ASIST AP) initiated work on employment creation through community infrastructure works in low-income urban settlements, with the purpose of developing tools and guidelines for an urban employment strategy. The emphasis was on the use of local resources in settlement upgrading such as labour, materials, skills and contractors. The initiative consisted of the implementation of a number of pilot projects in urban areas in Cambodia and the Philippines and the preparation of a generic Guide for use in the Asia Pacific region1.

A diverse team of experts provided the necessary inputs to the first version of this guide based on the different experiences. The team produced the designs, contracts and other materials for the pilot projects in cooperation with local government and the benefiting communities. The consultants also documented the experiences gained during the process. These project reports have formed the basis of the project descriptions and results reproduced in the first version of the Guide.

This proposal aims to take the process further both in terms of linking the strategy of creating employment through community infrastructure works to other urban development initiatives of the ILO (Local Economic Development in Nepal, Emergency Employment Creation in Timor Leste and Urban Green Jobs in the Philippines) and expanding on the existing Guide through additional pilot action programmes in partnerships with local administrations.

Investments in infrastructure have the potential to create jobs, reduce poverty and boost local economic development. The proposed activities will build on the 2007 experiences to further develop a generic tool to use public and private investments in infrastructure (and related services) to create urban jobs and reduce urban poverty in the Asia Pacific region. The proposed activities will also demonstrate the capacity ILO has developed in this field in the context of other development initiatives. In Nepal, activities will be implemented within the framework of the Dutch-funded EmpLED project which demonstrates integrated local economic development approaches for the creation of pro-poor and inclusive productive employment and economic opportunities. The proposed pilot area is Janakpur Municipality in Dhanusha District. The proposed activities will complement the RBSA activities in central Philippines by implementing interventions in an urban municipality to create green jobs as part of strengthening disaster preparedness of local governments in typhoon prone areas. The proposed area is in Albay province. In Timor Leste activities will be implemented in the low-income settlements in the capital Dili to support and strengthen the urban component of ILO’s current programme to support reconciliation and the peace process in the country through short-term emergency employment creation.

All activities will be planned and implemented with the beneficiaries following the principles set out in the first version of the Guide. The proposed projects will add value in terms of improving living and working conditions and generate income and create urban employment. The consultants working on this proposed project will document the process and lessons learned, keep track and record the process (activities, achievements and progress, challenges, methods etc.) as this will be used to elaborate on the current Guide and develop a second version of it. In line with earlier work, the focus will be on participatory planning with communities and local authorities, technical options and design solutions, implementation through partnerships and contracting, employment creation and management, operation and maintenance. Sub-projects will be implemented both in a poverty reduction and crisis context.


The proportion of poor people in Asia has fallen in recent decades but the region still accounts for two-thirds of the world’s poor, of whom 250 million are in urban areas. Recent economic growth has largely bypassed the urban poor as the benefits of growth do not always trickle down very fast. Special policies and programmes are needed to tackle urban unemployment and poverty.

Investments in infrastructure delivery can have important implications for employment creation. The direct results of investments include the generation of jobs, incomes and business opportunities, particularly if local resource-based methods are applied for the development, maintenance and operations of infrastructure of public and community interest. Longer lasting impacts such as improved access to goods and services, and larger production and productivity gains can contribute to sustainable poverty reduction and local development.

The ILO’s Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) has developed a strategy and a number of procedures and tools to increase the impact of investments in infrastructure on employment creation, poverty reduction and local development. EIIP works with governments, local partners, the private sector and community associations in orienting infrastructure investments towards the creation of higher levels of productive employment and towards the improvement of access to basic goods and services for the poor. This combined use of local participation in planning with the utilization of locally available skills, technology, materials, and appropriate work methods has proven to be an effective and economically viable approach to infrastructure works in developing countries2.

The ASIST AP programme is a regional programme of the ILO based in Bangkok. It is defined technically within the framework of the EIIP and functions as the regional arm of EIIP. The objectives and outputs of the ASIST AP programme are part of the overall framework of objectives of the EIIP. The goal of the ASIST AP programme is to improve access of the population to employment opportunities and to economic and social goods and services through the effective provision of local infrastructure. The immediate objective is to develop and integrate local resource-based strategies for sustainable pro-poor infrastructure provision into country investment programmes3. Local resource based strategies aim to optimize the use of local labour, local materials and suppliers, local consultants and contractors, local governments and communities in the planning, construction and maintenance of rural infrastructure. ASIST AP achieves its objectives through four technical fields of operation: participatory local level infrastructure planning, labour-based technology, small-scale contracting and labour-based maintenance.

When compared with heavily mechanized techniques, local resource-based approaches:

  • absorb more un-/semi-skilled labour (direct and indirect job creation);
  • contribute to an increase in household income and consumption, with positive effects on the local economies;
  • strengthen the role of local suppliers and small contractors;
  • enhance community participation and negotiation between local actors;
  • develop local capacities for infrastructure management;
  • improve operation and maintenance;
  • are more environmentally friendly.

ASIST AP has developed a range of products and best practices in the Asia Pacific region. The work however has so far been focussing on rural areas. Discussions have been ongoing on developing a similar package for urban areas. This would include the development of an urban employment intensive investment strategy and specific generic technical products for use in an urban setting. The development of such a package will not have to start from the scratch as valuable work in this area has been done already.

1. The EIIP Programme has implemented various slum upgrading projects in Africa in partnership with urban communities. This work has resulted in the development of tools to enhance a culture of organisation and negotiation within communities. A practical guide on “Community Contracting” has been developed to enhance the capacities of different stakeholders to enter into contractual frameworks.

2. The ILO has also worked on solid waste management. This has resulted in guidelines and technical step-by-step manuals on how to start a community-based waste collection service. The documents cover: legal issues; types of solid waste and generation rates; the waste cycle; recycling issues; gender roles; routing issues; occupational safety and health; community participation; monitoring system; and community contracting issues.

3. In recent years, ILO has supported urban development initiatives in post crisis situations. This work has focussed on developing crash training courses linked to urban rehabilitation works and cash-for-work programmes. Activities have been implemented in Dili (Timor Leste), Yogyakarta, Nias and Banda Aceh (Indonesia). Valuable lessons could be learned from these experiences and products can be developed for urban employment creation for use in future crisis situations.

4. ILO implemented a series of urban development activities in 2007 to produce a first version of the Guide “Creating Jobs while Improving Low-income Settlements – version 1 – ILO Bangkok 2008” The Guide describes the application of modified tools in selected urban communities in the Philippines and Cambodia and describes the different components of an effective approach to improve community infrastructure in low-income settlements and creating employment in the process. The Guide is a living document and will be improved as more experience from additional work in low-income settlements becomes available.


The proposed project will produce the following outputs:

1. A number of jobs created (measured in work days) and livelihoods improved (measured in assets created) through the implementation of sub-projects in urban areas in Philippines, Nepal and Timor Leste;

2. Demonstration and integration of an urban job creation component in the context of larger ILO development strategies (indications of how LED, green jobs, crisis response programmes have integrated urban works components);

3. An updated and expanded second version of the Guide “Community Infrastructure in Urban Areas – Creating Jobs while Improving Low-income Settlements”.

Implementation Strategy

ILO will engage a team of local and international consultants to further develop the urban EIIP strategy and generic technical tools to increase the impact of investments in urban infrastructure on employment creation and poverty reduction and demonstrate its capacity in this field within the context of other local development programmes and in partnerships with local authorities and communities. The work will be concentrating on Nepal, Philippines and Timor Leste, draw together expertise and lessons from a variety of ILO and other programmes and projects that address urban poverty and focus on both mainstream development and post-crisis situations.

The implementation of sub-projects will result in improved living and working conditions and temporary employment creation in selected low-income urban settlements. Work will adhere to the principles set out in the current Guide. Sub-projects will be identified and designed with full participation of beneficiaries and local authorities. Implementation will take place through community or local contracting. Due attention will be paid to issues related to operation and maintenance.

The generic product development will focus on further developing participatory approaches for negotiation and identification of investments, labour-based technology, community and small-scale contracting and the operation and maintenance of infrastructure (including public services such as waste collection). The current Guide will contribute to enhancing the capacities of the actors involved. The different product components will be developed as far as possible in collaboration with other actors involved with urban employment development and poverty reduction in the Asia Pacific region.

The demonstration of capacity within the context of larger ILO initiatives will establish ILO’s reputation in the field of employment creation through infrastructure works in the three countries. This will hopefully result in scaling-up activities at the country level to generate a larger impact.


The ILOs Local Economic Development (LED) Approach is an area-based approach to strengthen the economic capacity of a local area. The urban EIIP strategy and tools can be applied within the context of LED to establish the demand for productive (economic) infrastructure in an urban locality and strengthen the capacity of urban service providers. LED assesses local needs and opportunities for economic development. The assessment results in a LED strategy that provides a framework and logic for programme spending and the necessary actions. The LED approach involves a territorial diagnosis to identify priority areas for short-term interventions and the formulation of a longer term LED strategy. The latter is the result of a consensus building process among the local stakeholders4. Local economic development and the development of infrastructure and service delivery are intertwined. The urban EIIP tools should become part and parcel of the LED toolkit and complement the other elements of the LED strategy formulation process by integrating priority economic infrastructure investment priorities, based on the real needs of urban communities, into local economic development plans. Equally important, capacity of local service providers need to be strengthened. The proposed project will support such integration through the pilot work in Nepal.

In Asia, the ILO has been heavily involved in Crisis Response Programmes in Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands, providing direct assistance to reconstruction works as well as in collaboration with other international agencies. A key feature in most of these programmes has been the commitment to provide long-term support through all stages of the crisis response process, often starting during the conflict period, continuing through the recovery phase and thereafter transforming the support into regular development assistance. Responding to natural or man-made disasters is a central part of livelihood development in many parts of the world and local resource based approaches to infrastructure development have proven to be effective tools for both disaster preparedness as well as during relief, recovery and reconstruction works. Crises affect both rural and urban areas. The proposed project will further support crisis response work by developing tools and procedures to create jobs in crisis-affected urban settlements.

The Green Jobs initiative of the ILO encourages governments, employers and workers to develop policy tools aimed at achieving an environmentally sustainable process of development alongside the creation of decent jobs. Green jobs are defined as economically viable employment that reduces environmental impacts to sustainable levels. This includes employment that helps to promote and restore ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce consumption of energy, materials and resources and de-carbonise the economy, and minimise or avoid the generation of waste and pollution. Investments in infrastructure to mitigate adverse weather conditions are not new. However as a result of climate change, there is an increasing demand for protecting communities and their livelihoods. Common measures of this nature include flood prevention measures such as construction of dykes and embankments, diversion of floodwater, improved water management, strengthening existing infrastructure and facilities, and soil conservation measures. The proposed project will support further development of procedures and tools to create urban green jobs in the process of infrastructure development.

The urban package will also be welcomed by the Cities Alliance network. At the meeting of the Cities Alliance Consultative Group in December 2006, members expressed strong interest in how to more effectively integrate employment into urban development strategies and programmes and how to better design technical cooperation and external funding modalities to facilitate job creation. Employment creation was seen also to be a key to success of the Millennium Goal for Cities without Slums which in fact inspired the creation of the Cities Alliance. Mayors, municipal authorities, private sector operators, slum dwellers associations and low-income urban residents - who constitute both the membership and the beneficiaries of Cities Alliance action - are looking for improved strategies and funding mechanisms to facilitate creating productive employment. As a follow-up, the ILO Employment Policy Department in Geneva organized in March 2007 a roundtable discussion to identify specific strategies and programmes to be implemented for urban job creation, including with reference to the specific context of fragile states, and to agree on modalities and action to be taken by participants for better integrating employment concerns into the work of the Cities Alliance. The meeting focussed on using City Development Strategies as a vehicle for leveraging municipal investment plans and donor budgetary support for a greater impact on job creation. ILO Geneva has been asked by Cities Alliance to develop a Policy Paper on Urban Development and Employment. The technical down-stream work that takes place within the context of this proposed project will contribute to such a position paper at the up-stream level.

The strategy and products could become an integral part of the International Training Centre Turin (ITC) capacity building programme on “Decent Jobs and Better Services for the Urban Poor (DJBS)”. The overall objective of this inter-regional programme is to strengthen local capacities in planning and implementing citywide employment initiatives that will reduce poverty through the creation of decent and sustainable jobs linked to better access by the poor to urban infrastructure and services. The development of the urban EIIP strategy and products will have to build on the experience of DJBS and will contribute to the development of a new set of training materials and case studies available for future advocacy and capacity-building work both in ITC Turin and in the Asia Pacific region. The strategy and technical tools are already integrated into the annual course on “Employment Intensive Investments for Sustainable Development”.

Implementation Modality

The activity will be managed by ILO ASIST AP in the Regional Office (ROAP). ILO ASIST will take the lead in the production of the Guide.

Research, demonstration and development activities will be implemented in three countries (Philippines, Nepal and Timor Leste) over a period of fifteen months.

An international consultant will be recruited to assist with the implementation of the activity and to produce the required outputs. He/she will work under the overall supervision of ASIST AP. Local consultants will be hired to organize and supervise the field work in the three countries. Specific technical consultants will be hired when required to further backstop country activities.

Demonstration activities will be implemented in Nepal, Timor Leste and the Philippines. Activities will be integrated into or linked to other ILO initiatives.

The generic product will include community planning and organization, small-scale contracting, local resource-based technology and operation and maintenance of urban infrastructure.

The international consultant will review existing and past ILO experiences in urban employment creation and closely collaborate with ILO units such as EIIP, LED, SEED and ITC. He/she will work with the local consultants to review best practices of other organizations in selected cities in the three target countries.

The final output of the activity will be a second, updated and expanded, version of the Guide “Community Infrastructure in Urban Areas – Creating Jobs while Improving Low-income Settlements”. This Guide should be developed in such a way that it can be easily integrated into existing urban development strategies and technical training programmes of City Alliances, ITC and LED.

The international consultant will work with the ILO employment creation projects in Timor Leste, the ILO EmpLED project in Nepal and the ILO EIIP team in the Philippines.

The ILO country offices will have the overall responsibility for implementation of country activities and all activities will be discussed and implemented in close collaboration with the country offices in Nepal, Philippines and Timor Leste (Indonesia).


To implement the activity a total budget of USD 180,000 will be required.









Supervision, technical inputs and overall responsibility for producing second version Guide

Jan - Dec 09



International Consultant(s) on urban works (Philippines, Nepal, Timor Leste)

Oct 08 – Oct 09



Pilot works and arrangements for development, operation and maintenance urban infrastructure Nepal

Oct 08 – Aug 09

ILO Nepal


Pilot works and arrangements for development, operation and maintenance urban infrastructure Philippines

Oct 08 – Aug 09

SRO Manila


Pilot works and arrangements for development, operation and maintenance urban infrastructure Timor Leste

Oct 08 – Aug 09

ILO Dili


Final lay-out second version Guide “Community Infrastructure in Urban Areas – Creating Jobs while Improving Low-income Settlements” and printing document

Nov - Dec 09



1 See “Community Infrastructure in Urban Areas – Creating Jobs while Improving Low-income Settlements – version 1 – ILO Bangkok 2008”

2 For more information see /public/english/employment/recon/eiip/about/index.htm.

3 See ASIST AP Programme Document “Mainstreaming Poverty Alleviation Strategies through Sustainable Infrastructure Development.

4 Various ILO LED Documents.