13th Regional Seminar for Labour-Based Practitioners and Policy Makers

Theme of the seminar: 'Employment Intensive Approach in the Construction Sector - A Catalyst for Achieving Prosperity for All'

The five-day 13th International Labour Organization (ILO) Regional Seminar for Labour- Based Practitioners was held from 30th November to 4th December 2009 in Kampala, Uganda. The seminar was organized by Ministry of Works and Transport on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Uganda, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization.

The theme of the seminar, “Employment Intensive Approach in the Construction Sector - A Catalyst for Achieving Prosperity for All,” is not only relevant to Uganda today but the entire developing world. “Prosperity for All” is a Uganda Government catch word used in reference to a programme that aims to increase household incomes as a strategy of reducing poverty levels in the country. Started in 2006, the programme envisions transforming Uganda from a pre - industrial economy to an industrial economy where each Ministry is tasked with incorporating this component in the work plans. Through a labour - intensive approach to construction works, the Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT) hopes to implement this programme successfully.

A total of 331 local and international delegates from 27 countries attended the seminar and by the end of the event, a total of 12 educative papers by experts with hands-on experience from the field had been presented in the plenary sessions. Specialists on different aspects of labour-intensive contributions to infrastructural investments delivered the papers. After presentation of each paper, discussions were held to enable delegates to share experiences and challenges in their countries. Through these discussions, strengths and weaknesses were identified in the field presented and appropriate recommendations made.

The seminar provided the delegates with the opportunity to review the objectives set at the last seminar held in Durban in 2007, and to assess progress in implementation. Ministers from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the Regional Seminar, along with the Deputy Minister of Roads and Public Works from the Republic of South Africa, the previous seminar host country.

A Labour-intensive approach is one of the strategies in the country’s plans to achieve its development goals. Uganda possesses a large pool of labour resource (albeit not skilled) which, if properly harnessed, could help the country achieve prosperity.
The key issue of the seminar was to consider employment creation and poverty alleviation in the context of labour-intensive technologies as a means to provide a structural and long-term intervention to address unemployment and underemployment in developing countries. The sessions provided labour-based practitioners with an opportunity to share their experiences and also provided a platform for delegates to exchange views on possible solutions for increasing the impact of investments and Government programmes on employment creation.

The seminar thus marked a shift of focus beyond mere promotion of labour-based technologies, to a focus on increasing the employment impact of public sector investments and programmes in particular. In addition to best practices, the manner in which political commitments were linked to concrete outcomes was also examined.

The Ministers Statement was read to the delegates on the second day of seminar and important to note is that the Ministers committed themselves to popularising the use of labour-based techniques in their respective countries. The Ministerial delegation toured a model farm (Katende-Harambe Agro-based Training Centre) in Namugongo, off Kampala-Jinja Road, which is on the outskirts of Kampala before they travelled to Mbale in Eastern Uganda for a field trip with other delegates.

Delegates toured two “Prosperity for All” agricultural projects, a labour-based model road which was under construction by MELTC and the Mt. Elgon Labour-Based Training Centre (LBT) in Mbale. (The training centre is under the Ministry of Works and Transport). This gave them an opportunity to appreciate the seminar theme by personally observing the works that had been undertaken by MoWT in terms of encouraging LBT practices.

At the end of the seminar, an evaluation was done by delegates through a questionnaire. The results showed that the general rating of the whole seminar, the delegates’ appreciation for the papers that were presented as well as the overall organisation of the seminar. The Kampala Statement was passed and adopted by the delegates. Ghana was elected to host the 14th ILO Regional Seminar.