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ILO promotes labour intensive methods to improve livelihoods of host and refugee communities in Ethiopia
Through an intensive training, the ILO has strengthened the capacity of road construction engineers from Ethiopia’s refugee-hosting districts to apply labour intensive methods to boost socio-economic development through infrastructural development and job creation.
Participants of the labour based road construction training in Ethiopia. ©ILO/Zelalem Desta Ginchi, ETHIOPIA (ILO News) - Together with the Ethiopian Roads Administration (ERA), the ILO trained engineers from the regional road bureaus on labour-intensive methods in the construction of low-volume sealed roads (LVSR). LVSRs are made of unsealed gravel and earth and play an important role in connecting rural communities with national road networks and with vital public services, such as schools, hospitals, farms and markets. When connected with labour intensive methods, construction of LVSR also offers employment opportunities to local populations.
Labour-intensive methods have the potential to offer a lifeline to refugee-hosting districts which struggle with poor infrastructure and limited job opportunities.
Jean-Yves Barba, Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO PROSPECTS programme in Ethiopia "Labour-intensive methods have the potential to offer a lifeline to refugee-hosting districts which struggle with poor infrastructure and limited job opportunities. Getting access to new skills and employment can improve the self-reliance of refugees and strengthen the resilience of their host communities,” said Jean-Yves Barba, Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO PROSPECTS programme in Ethiopia. Organized between 20 February to 10 March 2023 at the Ginchi Labour-Based Road Construction and Maintenance Technology Training Centre, the training involved 13 engineers from the road bureaus of five refugee-hosting regions of Ethiopia and one engineer from the ILO PROSPECTS team in Sudan. Trainees learning how to use soil lab equipment. ©ILO/Zelalem Desta Khadar Omar, a 24-year-old engineer currently working as a Supervisor Engineer at Somali Regional State Road Bureau, was one of the trainees to complete the training He explained: “I always thought that asphalt road construction can’t be implemented using labour-based approaches. But now at the training I witnessed that it is possible. Together with my fellow trainees, we even built a 15-meter-long asphalt road using labour-based methods.” The training also provided insights on using locally available resources. “I always struggled with this component of project planning, but now I feel confident to include it in my future work plans,” added Khadar. Upon returning to his workplace, Khadar would like to create more jobs for both refugees and host communities by applying labour-based methods and will advocate with his senior management team of the regional bureau for scaling this approach. During the three-week training, the participants were taught how to plan, design and implement public works and infrastructure development using labour-intensive methods. The ILO's Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) links infrastructure development with employment creation, poverty reduction and local economic and social development. It promotes the use of locally available materials in an optimal and environmentally sustainable manner. Moreover, it provides employment opportunities for young people. The training involved theoretical and practical sessions where participants had a chance to visit different sites. Trainees attending practical session at the construction site. ©ILO/ERA Another of the trainees, Hassen Mossa, is currently working as a Project Coordinator at Amhara Rural Roads Construction Agency. “We are deploying huge machineries even for small projects, but now I have learnt that different projects, including asphalt roads, can be built using labour-intensive methods”, said Hassen.
We are deploying huge machineries even for small projects, but now I have learnt that different projects, including asphalt roads, can be built using labour-intensive methods.
Hassen Mossa, Project Coordinator at Amhara Rural Roads Construction Agency He also expressed his concern that although the trainees are committed to implementing what they learned, they are not part of decision-making processes, actually doing so would require endorsement from the management of regional bureaus. In this context, he recommended considering the inclusion of decision-makers in future rounds of EIIP training. In addition to labour-based works, the training covered several other areas, such as contract administration and management, site administration and organization, road design and maintenance, concrete technology, masonry and structures, cobblestone paving and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). At the graduation ceremony, Barba congratulated the successful trainees and called on them to apply labour-intensive practices at the workplace and in the community to generate more and better jobs. He also encouraged them to share their learning with their colleagues. “The trainees have absorbed the new methodology really well. And now, we hope that many people from host and refugee communities, especially youth and women in the rural areas, will benefit from the practical application of these labour-intensive methods,” said Chekole Moges, National Project Coordinator, ILO PROSPECTS Ethiopia. ILO-ERA Collaboration The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) have many years of collaboration, going back to the 1980s, in the area of the Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP). In 1980, the ILO introduced the ERA to labour-based approaches for the construction of roads. As a result, Ethiopia the country was among the first African countries to introduce labour-based road development and maintenance systems, along with Kenya and Lesotho. The following year, 1981, the ILO supported the establishment of the Ginchi Labour-Based Road Construction and Maintenance Technology Training Centre. Since then, the ILO has been providing the centre with technical support, including the development of training manuals and trainers’ guides for the labour-intensive rehabilitation and maintenance of roads. In addition, the ILO promoted it as a centre of excellence for labour-based training and used it to train government and private sector actors in labour-based approaches, most recently in 2019.