Public works form a key component of the current social protection framework in South Africa, constituting the only form of social support for the able-bodied working age population. Public works programmes are centrally placed in the conceptualisation of social policy space and ascribed considerable potential in terms of addressing the central challenges of unemployment and poverty. Despite this policy prominence, no evidence base is available to attest to the effectiveness of public works, as currently designed in South Africa, to meet these objectives.
Given the lack of evidence, this research focuses on the question of state intervention to promote employment and reduce poverty through public works, and encompasses three separate strands of work (dealt with in three sub-projects, discussed under the Activities tab). This work examines the nature and impact of public works programmes (PWPs) in Africa and, especially, South Africa.
For the first sub-project, primary data collection was undertaken to evaluate two public works programmes.
The second sub-project was the establishment of a database of public works programmes in East and Southern Africa, and a detailed review of four country programmes to examine how HIV/AIDS can be incorporated into PWP programmes.
The third sub-project was the analysis of survey findings and development of resources and expertise on PWP impact and incidence in Africa in collaboration with various national and international bodies, including the Centre for the Study of South African Social Policy (CASASP) and the University of Oxford.
This project has resulted in a large body of research in the form of publications, conference papers and presentations (listed in the Output and Publications tab). It has also collected primary data on two public works programmes in South Africa, and created a database of PWPs in East and Southern Africa
- ‘Training and the EPW’ in Kraak A (ed) HSRC Human Development Review 2007
- ‘The Social Protection Function of Short Term Public Works Programmes in the Context of Chronic Poverty‘ in Barrientos A and Hulme D (eds) Social Protection for the Poor and Poorest: Risk, Needs and Rights, Palgrave, United Kingdom, 2007.
- ‘Development and Public Works’, in Clark D A (ed) The Elgar Companion to Development Studies, Edward Elgar, United Kingdom, 2006.
- ‘A Critical Evaluation of Training within the South African National Public Works Programme‘ in Journal of Vocational and Educational Training, Vol 57 (4) 2005.
- Public Works in the Context of HIV/AIDS: Innovations in public works for reaching the most vulnerable children and households, UNICEF, Nairobi, 2005.
- The economy-wide impacts of the labour intensification of infrastructure expenditure in South Africa with D van Seventer. SALDRU and CSSR Working Paper 93, University of Cape Town, South Africa, January 2005.
- The Zibambele Public Works Programme: Using public works to address poverty in Taking Power in the Economy. Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, Cape Town, 2004.
- Policy Expectations and Programme Reality: The Poverty Reduction and Employment Performance of Two Public Works Programmes in South Africa. ODI Working Paper no 8, ODI, London, 2004
- Public Works: Policy Expectations and Programme Reality, SALDRU and CSSR Working Paper 79, University of Cape Town, South Africa, October 2004.
- An overview of the performance and potential of public works programmes in South Africa, SALDRU and CSSR Working Paper 49, University of Cape Town, South Africa, January 2004.
- Employment and Labour Market Trends, in Human Resources Development Directory, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, 2003.
- Overview of the South African Economy, with Bhorat H, in Human Resources Development Directory, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa, 2003.
- Public Works as a Response to Labour Market Failure in South Africa, SALDRU and CSSR Working Paper 19, University of Cape Town, South Africa, November 2002.
- Public Works: Don’t! April 2007
- The Function of Infrastructure Spending and Public Works in the Developmental State. Co-authored with Charles Meth. Paper presented at, Developmental State Seminar, Johannesburg, 19 October 2007.
- Infrastructure Development, Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation. Infrastructure Development, Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation – what are the links and how can they be strengthened? Paper presented at the 12th Annual ILO Regional Seminar on Labour Intensive Practices, Durban, 9 October 2007.
- Are public works an alternative to the Basic Income Grant? Paper presented at BIEN Conference 2006 University of Cape Town, South Africa, 2-4 November 2006.
- Win-win or lose-lose? An Examination of the Use of Public Works as a Social Protection Instrument in Situations of Chronic Poverty. Paper presented at the Conference on Social Protection for Chronic Poverty, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, 23-24 February 2005.
- Public works and overcoming under-development in South Africa. Paper presented at the UNDP, HSRC & DBSA Conference on Overcoming Under-development in South Africa’s Second Economy, Pretoria, South Africa, 29 October 2004.
- The economy-wide impacts of the labour intensfication of infrastructure expenditure in South Africa, with Dirk van Seventer. Paper presented at the DPRU, TIPS & Cornell Conference on African Development and Poverty Reduction, the Macro-Micro Linkages, Somerset West, South Africa, 13-15 October 2004.
- Public works as a component of social protection in South Africa. Paper prepared for the Basic Income Grant Coalition Conference, Reducing Inequality and Poverty: A BIG solution, Ipelegeng Community Centre, Soweto, South Africa, 2-4 December 2003.
- The current status of the EPWP (infrastructure) in the Western Cape. Prepared for Western Cape Provincial Treasury & Department of Transport and Public Works, South Africa. 24 March 2006
- Study to inform the selection of an appropriate wage rate for public works programmes in Malawi. With Chirwa E, Mvula P & Pinder C. National Safety Nets Unit, Government of Malawi. 31 May 2004.
- Setting the Public Works Wage in Malawi CARE Malawi Working Paper, unpublished. 2004.
- Public Works Programmes: Defrauding the Poor?
SALDRU Lunchtime Seminar Series. 26 September 2007
- Public Works and Social Protection: What can we expect from the EPWP?
CSSR Seminar Series. 29 September 2005
- Economic constraints to the performance of the EPWP
Department for Public Service and Administration. 20 June 2005
- Policy Expectations and Programme Reality
CSSR Seminar Series. 9 September 2004
- Public Works: Uncut
Prepared for Idasa Forum. 17 August 2004