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The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)

Overcoming underdevelopment in South Africa's second economy

Jointly hosted by the UNDP, HSRC and DBSA

28, 29 October 2004

Sean Phillips, Chief Operations Officer, National Department of Public Works

This paper is posted with permission of the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
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This paper provides an overview of the whole EPWP, with a focus on the infrastructure sector (which is coordinated by the Department of Public Works). The paper begins by briefly sketching the rationale for an EPWP, in the context of high unemployment, low skills, and large backlogs of public services. The evolution of public works programmes (PWPs) in South Africa since 1994 is then outlined, and two provincially-initiated PWPs are introduced in order to provide an indication of the rich diversity of existing local PWP initiatives. A short summary of some of the lessons from the international experience of PWPs is provided to complete the background to the EPWP.

The conceptual framework for the EPWP is described in some detail, with an emphasis on how and why it differs to previous initiatives. This is followed by a short description of progress to date, focusing on two examples in the infrastructure sector, with the aim of illustrating some of the ways in which the programme can be expanded. The paper concludes with a description of some of the implementation challenges of the programme.

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