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The State of the Expanded Public Works Programme in South African Cities 2020-2021

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Ignatius Ariyo, Kgomotso Tolamo, Michelle Browne, Paul Jones

03 June 2022



SACN Librarian


SA Cities Network

South Africa

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) is a government-led public works programme providing social protection, through temporary work opportunities, to a significant number of unemployed South Africans. Through the productive work of participants, the programme contributes to three core outcomes: social protection (income), employment and skills development, and the provision of public assets and services. Over the 2020/21 reporting year, 938 688 work opportunities were created through 13 496 EPWP projects, which translates into a total of R9.3 billion as income support to EPWP participants.


Cities are central to the implementation of the EPWP. Urban migration has increased the demand for jobs within cities, a demand which has not been adequately met, and socio-economic vulnerability and poverty can no longer be viewed as predominantly rural issues. As such, the EPWP has become ever more relevant within the city context. The SACN-EPWP Reference Group (RG) (a collaboration between the SACN, its member cities, and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure) is a forum facilitating knowledge exchange and shared learning towards the successful implementation of EPWP in South African cities.


The progress of the EPWP in the cities and the innovation and learning that have emerged through the RG are captured annually in the ‘State of the Expanded Public Works Programme in South African Cities’ reports. This publication constitutes the report for the 2020/21 period running from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. The aim of the report is to present and analyse the progress of the cities in the implementation of the EPWP in the 2020/21 year and to further examine the successes, challenges, and shared learnings across the cities towards continuous improvement.


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Built environment






Human settlements


Natural environment

Social facilities

Solid waste

South Africa


Water and sanitation

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