Labour intensive approaches promote social cohesion among host communities and refugees in Sudan

A series of training on the Employment Intensive Investment Programmes (EIIP) approach carried out by the ILO with construction work contractors in Sudan is showing promising results with host and refugee community members finding new employment opportunities, as well as access to improved public infrastructure.

News | 01 July 2022
Between March and April 2022, the ILO trained 10 construction contractors from East Darfur and West Kordofan on EIIP approaches and methodology. At the beginning of May 2022, these contractors were offered a pilot contract by the ILO to improve water supply and health infrastructure facilities in selected communities hosting refugees. Both host and refugee communities are appreciative of the EIIP initiatives as they bring in new employment and skill development opportunities, while developing new facilities for the community’s benefit.

A lack of mechanisms recognizing prior skills and legal restrictions often deter refugees from accessing formal employment opportunities. In this context, the EIIP activities are designed to equip both host and refugees with on-the-job training and new employability skills.

Sean Paterson, Chief Technical Advisor for ILO PROSPECTS in Sudan, explained: “The EIIP model targets improvement of public infrastructure by encouraging contractors to undertake labour intensive civil works. Being designed to engage more workers in lieu of machines, these activities generate additional employment in the community supporting refugees, helps them enter local labour markets and improves their self-reliance.”

Strengthening the construction sector in West Kordofan

In West Kordofan state, the ILO, with support from its implementing partner Alight, engaged with five local small-scale contractors, who participated in a three-week EIIP training session held between 21 March to 8 April 2021.

Training on Occupational Safety and Health organized for ILO’s partners and EIIP contractors in May 2022 @ILO
To further strengthen the construction sector, the ILO organized an Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) training in May 2022. This workshop, the first of its kind for the sector, encouraged participation from UN agencies, including UNICEF and UNHCR, the ILO’s EIIP implementing partners and government counterparts.

Through a practical case-study and field visit-based approach, the OSH training participants learned to undertake job hazard analysis and risk assessment at construction sites. “This training helped us develop a mindset focused on health and safety. The practical and application-based guidance on applying OSH principles have enabled us to better understand the potential hazards in our work environment”, said Maha Gamal, Planning Engineer, State Ministry of Infrastructure, a participant of the training.
The ILO also involved government agencies the State Ministry of Infrastructure and the Water Corporation Authority, in the OSH training to explain and enforce building codes and regulations regarding safety and health in construction sector.

Ahmed Atia-Allah, National Officer (EIIP) for ILO PROSPECTS in Sudan, said: “Through the OSH training, we aim to formulate a network of OSH facilitators in West Kordofan state who can conduct further OSH training for enterprises and support efforts to improve working conditions in constructions sites. It will ultimately result in improving productivity within the construction sector in the region in a sustainable manner.”

As part of the follow-up, the participating contractors are implementing a safety culture awareness campaign at their EIIP construction sites and working in close association with labour inspectors of the State Labour Office to help enforce safety codes and monitor, investigate and report injuries and fatalities, and enforcing safety signs on construction sites.

Work site for rehabilitation of Kharsana Primary Health Care Centre in West Kordofan @ILO
In terms of the pilot contracts, repair work of four water boreholes is currently under way, including one in Keilak, two in Kharasana and one in AL-Meiram, and one healthcare center in Kharasana.

Developing health and water infrastructure in East Darfur

The five East Darfur EIIP contractors attending the training have been awarded fixed-cost contracts under an ILO Implementation Agreement with Alight. These contracts provide an opportunity for EIIP-trained contractors to leverage local labour and materials in the construction and/or rehabilitation of community infrastructure.

The health centre extension under construction at the El Nimir Refugee camp in East Darfur @ILO
EIIP technical and financial resources have been allocated in East Darfur state to expand healthcare service delivery at the El-Nimir Refugee Camp. In Assalaya locality, EIIP civil works include the drilling of a new borewell which will improve access to water for the forcibly displaced. Improving basic infrastructure for these vulnerable populations to enhance their protection and inclusion is one of the core commitments of the ILO’s PROSPECTS Partnership.

Atif Ismail, State Programme Manager of Alight pointed out: “The need for the extension of the health facility became evident during the COVID-19 emergency. The new construction will now provide additional rooms in case of the need for patients to isolate in future. In other circumstances, these rooms can also accommodate a laboratory, a short-stay ward and a medicine storage room with a nutrition store. Through the EIIP work, construction of a guard room at the entrance of the health centre, as well as restoration of water connections and services, is being taken up as well.”

The expansion of the centre will deliver more healthcare services and accommodate larger numbers of patients, benefitting both host and refugee communities in the locality.

More projects in the pipeline

Summing up the initiation of EIIP activities, Paterson added: “Where synchronized effectively, EIIP has the potential to play a critical role in minimizing community friction and promoting social cohesion. To that end, improving livelihoods for both forcibly displaced and hosting communities is a core feature of EIIP programming in Sudan. More importantly, EIIP is helping to generate the public infrastructure required for both communities.”

In 2022 in Sudan, the ILO plans to further expand EIIP training and infrastructure works with the contractors of PROSPECTS Partners UNICEF and UNHCR. Building capacity of the local contractors, the EIIP work will support improvement of four schools in East Darfur and West Kordofan.