Employment-Intensive Investment in


Employment-Intensive Investment Programme activities in Zimbabwe

Historical Information

Labour-based Rural Roads Rehabilitation and Maintenance Project (1997)
As employment creation took centre stage in the 1990’s the Government of Zimbabwe decided to initiate employment-intensive works in the delivery of infrastructure. Labour-based technology was introduced in Zimbabwe through pilot projects in 1991 with funding assistance from the Government of Denmark and ILO/ASIST advisory support. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) joined later and the technology was rolled out to other provinces. Following the success of the initial projects and the desire to outsource works to the private sector in line with the new government policy, the Ministry of Transport and Energy decided to build private sector capacity in the rehabilitation and maintenance of rural roads using labour-based methods. Hence, in 1997, the Ministry embarked on a contractor development programme. The programme later included training of local small-scale consultants in the process of labour-based contracting. A Labour-Based Development Unit (LBDU) was established in the Department of Roads (DoR) to run demonstration sites and to develop management procedures, administrative systems and training. This unit is now appropriately renamed the Labour-Based Advisory Unit (LBAU) and has an advisory role beyond the scope of its parent ministry. ILO/ASIST has provided advisory support in various areas, including technology research and development, capacity building and evaluations and assessments in support of further application of labour-based works in Zimbabwe.

To date, the labour-based technology has been mainstreamed into all provinces, and to a certain extent, beyond the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Department of Roads which introduced the concept in Zimbabwe.

The labour-based concept has been up-scaled from pilot projects in 1991 to in-house national projects in 1997, contractor development in 1997 and consultant development in 2002. Currently, the thrust is in multi-sectorial transfer of lessons learned n the roads sector. This includes targeting the 58 rural district councils using their umbrella association as an entry point.

Rural Access and Mobility
A Rural Transport study to assess the access problems in rural areas and make recommendations for improved access and development of relevant policies was conducted in three districts in Zimbabwe during 1995-1996 with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Following this study and dissemination of information on its findings, a project was launched, with technical inputs and advisory support from ASIST to implement a selected number of access interventions in two districts. The project demonstrated different access interventions that reduce the need to travel and the need for transport. These included: (i) improving rural infrastructure through the improvement of foot paths and tracks and the construction of foot bridges, (ii) improving mobility through facilitating the availability of IMTs (Intermediate Means of Transport) and transport services, and (iii) non-transport interventions aimed at reducing the need to travel long distances by appropriately locating services and facilities. The interventions selected took into consideration the views of the communities – particularly women, who generally shoulder the greatest travel and transport burden.

A socio-economic impact assessment of selected access interventions in two of the districts project was carried out in early 2003. The results of the study revealed that immense benefits have accrued to the beneficiaries in terms of improving access to socio-economic service, opening up opportunities for income generation activities and influencing a change in gender roles.

Collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe
The University of Zimbabwe and the ILO signed two agreements of collaboration in 1996 to spearhead the introduction of labour-based roadworks into the under- and post-graduate civil engineering curriculum and rural transport planning into the under- and post-graduate urban and rural planning curricula.

Further reading

  • A case study of the impact of selected access interventions in two rural districts of Zimbabwe
    C. Lema, In ASIST Bulletin Issue no. 16. September 2003
  • Socio economic impact assessment of selected access interventions in Zaka and Chipinge Rural District of Zimbabwe
    ILO. 2003
  • Rural transport study in three districts of Zimbabwe:
    • Volume 1: Main report presenting the findings from the survey in Zaka, Rushinga and Chipinge Districts
    • Volume 2: The transport burden on women and girls in Zimbabwe's rural areas
    • Volume 3: The transport need generated by agricultural activities
    • Volume 4: Annexes to the rural travel and transport study in Zaka, Rushinga and Chipinge