Employment-Intensive Investment in


Employment-Intensive Investment Programme activities in Zambia

Current EIIP Involvement

An employment diagnostic undertaken by the ILO in 2014 indicates that unemployment is largely an urban phenomenon, with rural unemployment standing in stark contrast to the urban unemployment at 3.3% and 14.2% respectively. Whereas unemployment is an urban issue, underemployment is largely a rural phenomenon recorded at 13% in contrast to the urban rate of 5.7%.

Zambia has an astonishingly young and growing population, with about 74% of the population being under the age of 30 (46% are under the age of 15). Zambian youth in desperate need of economic opportunity are increasingly affected by unemployment/underemployment. Some of the key contributing factors to the high rates of youth unemployment have been identified as low levels of education and skills, as well as lack of entrepreneurship knowledge coupled with limited access to appropriate finance business development services, technological know-how and access to markets.

The Government of Zambia acknowledges that poverty, unemployment and prevailing social imbalances are the most pervasive problems that the country is currently facing, and is committed to broad based policy reforms and programmes to address these challenges. Some interventions include an Affirmative Action plan for the youth and other disadvantaged groups, which aims at creating productive and equitable employment and business opportunities through a systematic use of government resources and involvement of the private sector.

The ILO Employment Intensive Investment Programme has been working closely with the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MoTC) in the coordination of Affirmative Action Programme (AAP). The objectives of the MoTC initiative are: 1) creating 20,000 jobs in the transport and construction sector, and 2) youth empowerment and building capacities of the local contractors. AAP is expected to contribute towards addressing the rampant unemployment and the unlimited participation of local entrepreneurs in the construction industry. The main strategies to be adopted by the MoTC include:
  • Transform technical and skills training institutions into a business entity capable of taking contracts from government institutions.
  • Organize the youth into business cooperatives and link them to technical institutions as sub-contractors. It is expected that technical institutions will have an administrative and advisory role while the work is carried out by the youth owned cooperatives. Technical institutions will retain 10% of the total project earning while the remaining 90% goes to the cooperatives.
  • Technical institutions and the youth cooperatives shall be registered under the National Council for Construction.
  • Each province will contract mandatorily the technical and skills training institutions under their respective province.
  • A minimum 20% of the total cost of all infrastructure projects is guaranteed for sub-contracting to local contractors and youth.
  • Establish mechanical shops and garages in government institutions to employ youth who are trained in automotive engineering and mechanics
The Government of Zambia is also implementing a flagship project, Pave Zambia 2000, aiming at improving rural accessibility though building 2,000 km of all-weather roads in townships across the country. It also aims at jumpstarting economic activities in the undeveloped areas of the country as well as maximizing local employment. The initiative is being coordinated by the Road Development Agency (RDA) that faces many challenges in achieving the dual objectives of improving access and employment generation.

The ILO is working with the MoTC in strengthening the coordination and implementation of the youth empowerment project as well as building national capacity on the use of employment intensive technology. The intention is to enhance the participation of young women and men in national development initiatives by providing them with marketable skills, decent jobs and business opportunities.

The ILO is also working with institutions like RDA, National Construction Council (NCC) and selected Technical Education Vocational & Entrepreneur Training (TEVET) colleges, which are involved in the AAP implementation for youth. The objective of the ILO’s intervention is to strengthen the coordination and implementation of youth Affirmative Action Programme in MoTC through introducing alternative and innovative public employment best practices and approaches.

At the request of the Government of Mozambique, the ILO has sponsored a rapid capacity assessment targeting institutions involved in the implementation of the programme including the MoTC, local authorities, TEVET colleges as well as the Technical Training Centre under the NCC. This assessment has helped in identifying capacity gaps and immediate interventions that are required to address them. The major intervention areas for the ILO include:
  • Support the youth empowerment project under the MoTC
  • Introducing cobblestone construction technique in the Pave Zambia project under the RDA
  • Revamp labour-based Training Centre under the NCC 
The ILO, through EIIP, contributes towards the implementation of public works projects under the financing from Irish Aid, which is intended for supporting the above national initiatives for the creation of employment and skills and development of opportunities for the youth and other disadvantaged groups in Zambia.

Historical Information

Contractor Registration Scheme:
Since 2004, the National Council for Construction (NCC) has been supported by the ILO in conducting a study on contractor registration, aimed at developing clear, fair and transparent modalities for registering contractors, particularly of small and medium scale (in the civil works sector). The registration aims to stimulate growth and recognition of small-scale contractors in the construction industry in Zambia. The study outlined how to operationalize the scheme and how it would be maintained. This includes necessary amendments to regulation and legislation, establishment of databases, etc.

Labour-based road works project – Northern Province

From 1987 to 1994, a labour-based feeder roads project was implemented in the Northern Province in Zambia under the funding from the Government of Norway and with technical assistance provided by the ILO. The project was implemented through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing. The project aimed to establish district brigades for the rehabilitation and maintenance of district roads in the province. A Field Training Unit was set up in Kasama to undertake the training of supervisors and site instructors.

Labour-based road works project – FINNIDA

A project funded by the Government of Finland was implemented under the Provincial Roads Engineer in Lusaka from 1991 to 1993. This project was concerned with the improvement and maintenance of provincial and district roads in the Lusaka Province (both earth and gravel roads). A national workshop was organized in 1993 to disseminate relevant information on labour-based construction and maintenance techniques in the country. The workshop further formulated a policy on the use of labour-based technology in the Zambian road sector, and provided an important input to the Road Maintenance Initiative (RMI) seminar held in Lusaka in 1993.

Based on the results of these projects and the agreement on the national policy, the Government decided to expand and continue its involvement with labour-based technology development.

Support to the Roads Training School

Since its inception in the early 1960s, the Roads Training School (RTS) has been the main training provider for road works in Zambia. It was established as an in-service training institution for personnel in the middle and lower ranks of Roads Department (RD) to undertake works through force account. The training component of the NORAD-supported and ILO-managed Northern Province project was, in mid-1994, transferred to the RTS in Lusaka, to form part of a broad Road Sector Programme (RSP I) of the Ministry of Works and Supply funded by NORAD. The ILO has continued to provide support to the labour-based component of the school, and is currently providing technical advisory and backstopping services. The RTS focuses on the development of both the public and private sectors' capacity to undertake road works using labour-based techniques. The RTS started to train small-scale routine maintenance contractors in 1995, and labour-based routine maintenance contractors are now working on feeder roads as well as on off-pavement works on the major highways in Zambia. The RTS continues to train contractors and contract managers, and has moved into new premises with increased capacity to conduct training in an appropriate environment with NORAD support.

Following the passing of the National Council for Construction Bill in 2003, which established the National Council for Construction, the RTS was transferred to the National Council for Construction (NCC). The School has been re-established under the NCC under a new constitution, continuing to provide high quality training, research and consultancy in construction and providing courses in labour-based technology.

The objective of NORAD/ILO support was to ensure that sustainable training for labour-based approaches is available in Zambia. This involved building RTS's capacity as the main provider of quality training in labour-based techniques for the civil engineering sector with special emphasis on roads. It was also planned to further develop, strengthen and most importantly fully institutionalise the courses offered by the school. In general, the RTS was intended to promote the use of labour-based technology with fair working conditions, incorporating gender and environmental issues. The benefits of training maintenance contractors are well recognized, and with the growing need for maintenance and maintenance training, this has been the main focus for the school.

To meet the demand for labour-based maintenance contractors who are capable of carrying out maintenance work on paved roads as well as developing low-cost sealing options for low-volume roads, the RTS has introduced and will further develop training on bitumen technologies for labour-based execution. The RTS will also introduce mobile units for courses in emergency repair of paved roads by labour-based contractors. Moreover, the RTS has developed and provides relevant training for labour-based contractors and contract managers for both the Government and other external clients.

Eastern Province Feeder Roads Project

The Eastern Province Feeder Roads Project, funded by the United National Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and executed by the ILO, was implemented from 1996 to 2001. The Feeder Road Project (FRP) was designed to build and strengthen the capacities of the local authorities and local private sectors to rehabilitate and maintain feeder and urban roads through contracting systems. A total of 404km of feeder roads of the targeted 580km were completed within the project budget. The project achieved 870,000 workdays (97% of the target) with 14% participation by women. An excess of 2,065 billion Zambian Kwacha was paid in wages within the districts of Eastern Province. Women were given equal access to work opportunities, reflecting their interest in participation.

The Roads Training School in Lusaka was contracted to carry out the training of rehabilitation and maintenance contractors as well as district supervisory staff. Seven successful rehabilitation contractors were equipped with light tractor-based equipment, and have now all paid back their equipment loan. Of the 21 maintenance contractors trained and equipped with hand tools, only 13 have continued to operate, mostly due to lack of maintenance funds.

The labour-based contractors have formed the Eastern Province Labour-Based Road Contractors Association (EPLBRCA). This association has been active in national meetings and forums discussing the future of the road sector in Zambia, and has assisted in increasing awareness of the project and its achievements.

The project also trained and re-oriented engineers from seven local consultancy firms in preparing labour-based contracts and in site supervision.

The FRP illustrates that local capacity can be created in District Councils and the local construction industry for improving and preserving road infrastructure using labour-based approaches. This can be replicated within Zambia and beyond its borders. The project is an important showcase and has contributed greatly towards acceptance of the approach in Zambia and its neighbours. Several other projects have now adopted the approach. The remaining challenge is to ensure that the trained contractors continue to have access to work in a competitive environment.

Sustainable Lusaka Project – Urban Upgrading Project 1998

In collaboration with UN Habitat, the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) through the Lusaka City Council (LCC) initiated the Sustainable Lusaka Project (SLP) in 1998. The overall objective of the project was to support the long-term sustainable growth and development of Lusaka through the integration of environmental planning and project implementation activities at the community level. One of the key objectives of the programme was capacity building to plan, implement and manage sustainable environmental programmes with popular participation of the community. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Irish Aid funded the project and the ILO has provided technical advisory support.

The ILO’s Advisory Support, Information Services, and Training Programme (ASIST) in Africa was involved in areas related to infrastructure improvement in unplanned settlements using labour-based, community-managed approaches and in waste management, which were focus areas of the programme. The focus on solid waste and water enterprises was a direct result of an initial analysis made by the SLP. ASIST provided technical support in the development of training material for the poor and vulnerable groups in community waste and water management. The training aimed at enabling Community-based Enterprises (CBEs) deliver basic services, such as solid waste management and clean water provision, at an economical price to residents within the settlements. The key anticipated outcomes were: (a) to create opportunities for the urban poor to increase their income levels, and (b) to improve the living and working conditions of the urban poor in selected low income settlements within Lusaka.

ASIST also contributed towards the development of strategies and consultative processes, such as the community contracting approach developed by ASIST in Dar es Salaam. This supported efforts to develop and improve the involvement and use of CBE's in service delivery.
The outcomes of the project were:
  • Two training packages were developed and piloted: (i) Start your waste collection services, and (ii) Start your water distribution services;
  • A total of 60 individuals participated in the training and formed five solid waste and three water CBEs. The ILO training was rated favourably by the trained CBEs with regard to the usefulness of the topics, relevance of the teaching materials and effectiveness of the training methods used. All except one of the CBEs registered and established their enterprises within three months of the completion of their training;
  • Staff of the LCC and the MLGH, as well as the community at large was sensitized to community participation, enterprise development, negotiation skills and methods of preparation of community action plans. The community members better understood and appreciated environmental issues and problems, which resulted in changing their attitudes and viewing themselves as part of the solutions;
  • The communities involved in the pilot projects in the peri-urban areas established Resident Development Committees. These committees help their communities (women in particular) become better organized for the SLP activities. The programme therefore provides a good case of institutional development at local level;
  • The SLP enabled a large number of stakeholders and development partners to participate. Many have incorporated SLP's participatory methodologies and processes into their own strategies and approaches in the urban sector, particularly the bottom-up community consultations and participation, stakeholders' interaction and community contracting; and
  • The project also contributed towards formulation of Lusaka's new solid waste strategy.

Urban upgrading project – PUSH

In 1996 and 1997, the ILO assisted the World Food Programme (WFP) to review and design an urban food for work programme. The urban food for work programme was implemented by a national NGO, PUSH, and an international NGO, CARE, in Lusaka, Livingstone and the Copperbelt, and resulted in good quality labour-based roads in unplanned settlements. This urban food for work programme emphasized community management of the constructed infrastructure and community municipality partnerships.

Other labour-based initiatives

Several other development agencies have adopted the labour-based approach for the implementation of their programmes in Zambia, including:
  • The Smallholder Enterprise and Marketing Programme (SHEMP) - which is financed by the International Food and Agricultural Development Agency (IFAD);
  • The Danida-supported project on upgrading Great West (M9) Lusaka-Mongu Road;
  • Projects under the Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF); and
  • The Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) – Emergency Drought Recovery Programme

Further reading

  • Roads Training School, Roads Department, Ministry of Works and Supply, Republic of Zambia, 2004
  • Development of contractor registration scheme with a focus on small scale civil works contractors, 2004.
  • Start your own waste collection service. Training manuals
  • Start your own water distribution service. Training manuals
  • Sustainable Lusaka Programme (SLP) project evaluation report
  • Joint Final Evaluation, Rehabilitation and Maintenance of Feeder Roads
    March 2002
  • Lessons Learned and Possible Scenarios for the Future
    April 2001
  • Community partnered procurement/community contracting
    Support to sustainable Lusaka programme WEDC. Sohail M. Khan, 1999.
  • A report on institutional audit and capacity building in environmental planning and management
  • Management Services Board, Lusaka City Council, Sustainable Lusaka Programme, 1999.
  • Sustainable Lusaka programme solid waste management
    A report prepared by Irish Aid. Mary Jennings, 1998.
  • Sustainable Lusaka programme. Project of the Government of the Republic of Zambia: Project document
    UNDP/Government of Zambia, 1997.
    Guidelines for implementation of works ZAM/90/005 project urban self help (PUSH)
    J. Tournée et al., ILO; WFP, 1995.
  •  Project Urban Self Help (PUSH). Report for ZAM/91/MO1/NAD Training in labour-based road construction
    J. Tournée, ILO, 1991.