Employment-Intensive Investment in


Activities of the Employment Intensive Investment Programme in Sudan

Current EIIP Involvement 

The Government of the Netherlands has launched a new partnership initiative ("PROSPECTS") built on the combined strengths, experience and values of specific development and humanitarian organizations to develop a new paradigm in responding to forced displacement crises. This Partnership among ILO, UNHCR, UNICEF, WB and IFC aims to help transform the way governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector, respond to forced displacement crises – and in particular: (1) to enhance the enabling environment for the socio-economic inclusion of forcibly displaced persons; (2) to enhance access to education and child protection for vulnerable children on the move; and (3) to strengthen the resilience of host communities through inclusive socio-economic development that also benefits forcibly displaced persons.

The programme aims to accelerate efforts to find sustainable solutions for countries confronted with the large influx of refugees. It will also aim to develop and implement evidence-based solutions, tailored to each context – as well as to test, and learn from, innovative operational solutions, including improving the availability, collection and use of data and evidence. The EIIP under this Partnership aims to train local contractors  in East Darfur State and West Kordofan State on the application of cost-effective labour-based construction technologies. The contractors will then use the technologies to rehabilitate critical water and health infrastructure in the two States.

Historical Information 

In 1997, the ILO provided technical assistance to the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded labour-based road project for the South Darfur State. The project, implemented over the course of three years and valued at US$5.5 million constructed 86 km of roads and developed a viable local labour-based road contracting capacity within the private sector, allied with a parallel development of the State Ministry of Engineering Affairs (SMEA) technical staff. Seven small sized contracting firms underwent a 20-week comprehensive training programme and were involved in the execution of trial contracts. The project was implemented by the SMEA whilst a local consulting company did the management and supervision.

Special Public Works Programme (SPWP)

From 1986 to 1990, EIIP provided technical assistance to the White Nile Integrated Rural Development Project that was implemented in the White Nile Province in the Sudan. Project activities included feasibility studies, designing and implementation of employment-intensive infrastructure works in various sectors. This included a 1,780 hectares irrigation scheme, 60 kilometers of feeder roads, vegetative protection works to control desertification and to protect the created infrastructure, and the construction of schemes for drinking water supply, using very effective and energy efficient slow-sand filtration methods. Appropriate employment-intensive and local resource-based methods were used in the design, implementation and operation/management of the created infrastructure. The project also included a capacity building component and a range of training materials was developed and used in training the Sudanese managers, engineers, site supervisors and contractors on the various aspects of the project. As a result of the project, alternative livelihood opportunities were provided to the local people whose subsistence was threatened by desertification and drought. Community-based systems for the operation and management of the infrastructure were successfully introduced to ensure the local sustainability 

This ILO Special Public Works Programme (SPWP) has been implemented from 1984 to 1990 with financial support from UNDP, UNCDF, IPF, WFP, OPEC and the Government of Sudan.  The project, in prioritizing and selecting the activities to be supported, also took into account the problem of regional disparity in development, of migratory labour and desertification. The immediate objectives of the project were to:

  • Contribute to the attainment of food self-sufficiency through improved productive infrastructure contributing at the same time to combatting desertification
  • Create employment opportunities, increase productive capacity and incomes for poorer sections of the rural population
  • Bring about greater self-reliance through the creation of an autonomous productive structure (an agricultural cooperative), thus contributing to the stabilization of the rural population and the slowing down of rural migration 
  • Improve the transport facilities in the project area and adjacent areas. 

Under the above framework, the project was to specifically produce the following results/outputs: 

  • A pumped irrigation scheme for 1,780 ha, to be farmed by about 636 tenants
  • A financially sound, cooperative society operating and maintaining the irrigation scheme and either directly providing, or arranging, agricultural services to members
  • An all-weather 60 km gravel road from Ed Dueim to El Sufi regularly maintained by the staff of the Provincial Department of Roads 

The project drew from unemployed labour to build essential rural works such as water-yards, surface water reservoirs (hafirs), irrigation schemes, schools, health posts, shelter belts and feeder roads. The project’s participatory approaches and the emphasis on the use of locally available resources were considered successfull  and led to similar projects being prepared for other regions. 

The irrigation scheme has been in operation since 1992 and the improvement of the supply canal was completed in September 1994. Farmers have successfully organized themselves into a cooperative. UNCDF provided the cooperative with a revolving fund for investment purposes while income generation activities for women have been started in 1994.

A constraint to the sustainability of the irrigation project was the lack of financial viability in lieu of the considerable investments made and an agricultural extension service which has not proven to be very effective. Although the cooperative had the potential to be fully self-financing (if adequate user fees would have been charged, if the system would have been properly maintained and if better agricultural practice would have been adopted), it has not been able to generate enough income for the maintenance of the scheme.  A constraint in this respect was the fact that farmers' initiative and management skills were not very well developed, leading to weak management of the cooperative.

Further reading

• Report on a joint ILO/UNICEF mission to evaluate progress and planning
Project SUD/97/C01 & 007 construction of the Nyala - Id El Fursan road South Darfur State, Sudan. Charles Williams, ILO/UNICEF, 1999.

• Labour-intensive special public works programmes El Obeid district - Kordofan region, El Fasher district - Darfur region
Consultancy for appropriate building technology, J. Eijgelaar, 1989.

• Interim report on water conservation, harvesting and flood control
Special public works programme El Fasher District, Darfur region. R.F. Camacho, International Labour Office (ILO), 1990.