May 2017 2nd Edition

Public works programmes meet societal challenges

Across the world Public Employment Programmes (Peps) are implemented to respond to challenges such as poverty, high unemployment rates, political conflicts and/or even natural disasters.

For instance, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the United States of America implemented Peps to respond to the high unemployment rate that existed then. The American government employed millions of poor and unskilled Americans as a way not only to tackle widespread unemployment in the country, but also to deliver public assets such as roads.

With South Africa experiencing a stubbornly high unemployment rate, in 2004 government set out to implement a programme that would tackle poverty and underdevelopment while delivering community assets and services such as roads and community-based home care programmes in South Africa. This is how the EPWP was born.  

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