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close this bookJobs for Africa - Towards a Programme of Action - Report of the ILO/UNDP Programme on Employment Generation and Poverty Reduction (ILO - UNDP, 1997, 107 p.)
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View the documentProgramme justification
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The implementation of the policy framework in support of an investment-led growth strategy for employment creation and poverty reduction requires a concerted and coordinated programme of action on the part of the UN system, governments at the national, regional and local, and civil society. This document describes interventions that would need to be carried out in order to fully implement the policies set out in the UNDP/ILO Policy Framework for an Employment-Intensive Growth Strategy.1 It is argued there that, to reduce poverty through employment, investment led, growth oriented macro-economic policies must be accompanied by, and be coherent with, sectoral and direct interventions that target specific population groups. This document describes some of the components of a coherent employment generating policy and programme that would lead to sustainable poverty reductions in sub-Saharan Africa.

1 UNDP/ILO: Policy Framework for an Employment-Intensive Growth Strategy, Geneva, 1997.

Programme justification

Three guiding principles underline the Programme of Action:

· the capacity of African countries to embark on investment-led strategy for sustained growth is essential for any reform. Stabilization programmes can not be the final outcome of economic policy. A sound macroeconomic policy must seek sustained growth over the medium and long terms;

· sectoral and microeconomic policies should ensure that sustained rapid economic growth will lead to an increase in job creation and poverty reduction; and

· an enabling environment is necessary for the achievement of growth and equity. The essential ingredients of such environment are participation by the civil society, respect for human rights, especially those enshrined in the core international labour standards, and good governance.

There is wide consensus that “action against poverty has been greatly weakened by its fragmented and partial nature”2. An effective poverty reducing policy must, therefore, identify suitable expenditure policies and explicit implementation mechanisms to ensure that investments do result in poverty reducing employment of a sustainable nature: Investment and public expenditure must be adequately targeted to reach the poor, pertinent in creating employment enhancing assets and effective in reaching the largest population at the lowest possible cost. An employment creation action programme can't simply suggest an investment structure comprising a sectoral distribution of investment and its volume. It must identify delivery systems that reach the poor and provide them with employment creating assets both for immediate job creation and for long term high quality employment growth. This calls for a selection of (i) appropriate labour intensive technologies and the mechanisms to ensure that such technologies are fully utilised, (ii) the integration of gender issues in the execution of direct interventions, (iii) the adequate use of credit instruments, (iv) the creation of productive and competitive enterprises that provide high quality employment, and (v) the development of mechanisms to assess and monitor the execution of all these activities.

2 Rodgers, G. (Ed): The Poverty Agenda and the ILO: Issues for research and action. IILS, Geneva, 1995.

Possibly the most effective way of promoting effective policies for poverty eradication lies in emphasizing the critical importance of good programme management. Major components of such an approach must include:

· the careful selection of the priority populations that should benefit from interventions and policies;

· the identification of the needs of such populations;

· the choice of tools needed to satisfy the needs of the selected populations; and

· the effective implementation of the interventions in a timely, coordinated and cost effective manner.

The selection of priority population requires detailed information on incomes and the location of the poorest segments of the population. A clear cut priority in any poverty eradication strategy is the creation of “poverty maps” that identify the geographic location of the neediest segments of the population, and an inventory of the social and physical infrastructure available.

Experience in “Social fund” projects has conclusively3 shown that the participation of beneficiaries in the selection of the projects is a major contributor to their success. There is thus a need for the organisation of the poorest segments of the population to ensure that they can participate in the selection of interventions. The “Appui associatif et cooptif aux initiatives de dloppement a la base (ACOPAM)” programme has a wide experience in this field in Africa. The aim of such participation is to select the type of action that is required, and select from a number of tools available to address their most pressing problems, within a certain budgetary constraint, but in a well coordinated manner.

3 The literature concerning this domain is extremely large. However, in the evaluation of Chile's Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversiocial (FOSIS) Raczynski, D., et al.: (Proyecto de fortalecimiento institucional del Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversiocial (FOSIS) de Chile. Componente 2: Evaluaci redisee programas, mimeo Santiago, 1996) examines not only the importance of popular participation, but also reviews the consequences of this factor on the structures of government and the coordination needs of poverty eradication programmes. Targeting, and other issues concerning the experience of social funds in Latin America are well summarised in Siri, G.: Social Investment funds in Latin America, CEPAL Review No. 59, August 1996.

The organisation of the poorest communities to select interventions, and the coordinated implementation of actions require local or regional level organisations. Where these structures do not exist they must be created, and where they do they must be strengthened. As implementing agencies, these structures must be trained in programme selection, the promotion of popular participation, and in the management and monitoring of local projects. Experiences in Brazil4 show possible strategies to strengthen regional and local governments. This was achieved, in this particular example, by:

4 See Tendler, J. and Freedheim, S.: Trust in a rent seeking world: Health and government transformed in Northeast Brazil-in World Development, Vol. 22 pp. 1771-1791, 1994.

5 Op. cit, pp. 1773.

a) A very tight control by the provincial government over the employment of local staff;

b) A “rigorous process of meritocratic selection and training, unending publicity, and repeated public prizes for good performance”;5 and

c) The voluntary assumption of greater responsibilities stemming both from the increased community interest on the work performed by the officials as a result of the aforementioned publicity campaigns and the strengthened relationships between public officials and the people they serve.

Clearly, technical advisory services must concentrate in increasing the absorptive capacity and productivity of public entities even when many of the reforms now being advocated tend to strengthen the private rather than the public sector.6

6 Sahn, D.E.: Assessing the impact of external assistance on poverty: Concepts and experiences in Africa, Methods for Evaluation of poverty oriented aid interventions. Seminar Report, Copenhagen, 5-6 July 1995, DANIDA.

Programme Objective

Mutually reinforcing actions must be undertaken to combat poverty through employment creation both at the macro-economic and sectoral levels. The major objective of this Programme is thus to contribute to the capacity building at the national, regional and sub-regional levels in sub-Saharan Africa to be able to implement an employment led, poverty reducing, strategy.

A more coordinated approach to policy formulation and development planning should be pursued to ensure that possible employment implications of policy decisions and programmes are carefully analysed. This must be done both in terms of specific measures and their inter-relationship. Thus, particular attention should be given to the coherence between the planning and budgetary authorities. Effective expenditures within specific planning policies will result in quality employment, in the reduction of poverty and to the improvement standards of living. This calls for capacity building and the provision of technical assistance in well defined areas of work.


The initial step in any employment generating strategy is to build up capacity in the relevant ministries as well as the representative institutions of the civil society to design and implement the of investment-led growth strategy. This is going to be achieved through the implementation of a regional programme to develop the national and regional capacity through the analysis and design alternative employment generating investment strategies. In so far as investment policies determine the volume and sectoral composition of direct interventions, the Poverty reducing employment strategies for sub-Saharan Africa is the key component of the programme. It will be summarised in Chapter I. Given its importance, the complete project document for this component is annexed to this Programme of Action.

The technical cooperation elements of a Programme of Action will abandon piece-meal interventions in favour of systematic programmes that can make a difference in creating jobs and reducing poverty. Mutually supportive technical assistance activities are proposed at both the regional and national levels, and will be described in Chapter II. It includes three regional level activities, and technical support at the national level in the following areas:

1. Promoting social dialogue for training Chapter II, section 2.2.1.

2. Small and medium enterprise development described in Chapter II, section 2.2.2.

3. Improving the data for employment and poverty reduction policy making, as detailed in Chapter II, section 2.2.3.

4. Employment-intensive programmes for the creation and rehabilitation of infrastructure, described in Chapter II, section 2.2.4.

5. Policies and programmes to enhance women's employment and their participation in decision making presented in Chapter II, section 2.2.5.

6. Policies and programmes for job creation through broad-based rural development (summarised in Chapter II, section 2.2.6.), including the promotion of developmental institutions (e.g. cooperatives described in section 2.2.7.).