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A how-to guide on running effective Expanded Public Works Programmes

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Koleko Pty Ltd, Avi Menon, Fate Muzondo, Thabani Sigodo, Zizipho Nenga, Johan Hattingh

30 June 2021

Ignatius Ariyo, Nomfundo Faith Dlamini


SACN Librarian

Research report

SA Cities Network

South Africa

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) is a South African government initiative developed in 2003 following the Growth and Development Summit that took place in that year. The mandate of the programme is to “provide poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed to carry out useful activities”. In doing this, it helps to create and maintain infrastructure and improves services to the public.

Its introduction has thus been a means of creating jobs. The primary focus of the programme is to provide an income for the poverty-stricken and to reduce the country’s high unemployment rate while creating much-needed public infrastructure and improving service delivery. To maximise work opportunities, the early stages of the programme emphasise labour-intensive methods within the infrastructure sector. Since its introduction, cities have found innovative ways to implement this programme.


Throughout its four phases, covering the years 2004 to 2024, the EPWP has experienced a number of implementation challenges including underperformance, poor or incomplete reporting, non-compliance, lack of institutional capacity and demands from participants for permanent employment. Among the reasons for these challenges is a lack of consistency and uniformity in how the programme has been implemented at the city or municipal level. This guide, developed by the South African Cities Network (SACN) and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) in 2021, aims to help address such issues. It is hoped that this guide will be a valuable reference document to EPWP implementing agents, coordinators and cities, giving guidance on how to implement the EPWP successfully and meet its objectives.

This report is one of three recent Expanded Public Works Programme resources developed by the SACN and the DPWI in 2021. See also The State of the Expanded Public Works Programme in SA Cities 2019-2020 Report and An in-depth analysis of selected EPWP Projects and cases studies through EPWP Phases. Other EPWP resources are available on the SACN's website.


Website References

Built environment




Human settlements

Labour intensity


Public works

Social facilities

South Africa


Water and sanitation

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