19 February 2007
South Africa’s Expanded Public Works Programme will be enlarged to include elements such as early childhood development, in an effort to combat unemployment.
President Thabo Mbeki earlier highlighted the importance of the programme, with promotes labour-intensive methods of construction and maintenance, during his State of the Nation address in Cape Town on 9 February.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya confirmed that government had allocated some R4.2-billion to provinces, to fund early childhood development and home-based care programmes. He said such programmes provided both work and training opportunities for volunteers in the sector.
“The ECD programme is also a child protection mechanism as it is easy to detect abuse amongst children attending ECD centres,” he said.
In order to increase the impact of these programmes, Skweyiya said they had to be lengthened, enabling longer periods of training for EPWP beneficiaries.
“This methodology is being tested in eThekwini on some of the large scale projects being undertaken there,” he said.
Provincial public works departments will also employ 5000 young people to maintain the province’s public buildings, as well as identify projects that can be made part of the country’s National Youth Service from April onwards.
Skweyiya also said that the government had allocated R3-billion to provincial transport departments to intensify labour-intensive construction and maintenance projects.
The programme would especially focus on provincial access roads, which are currently under-funded. He added that all provinces had developed business plans for the next three years that cater for an increase in expanded public works programmes, which will commence in April.
Skweyiya said that the Department of Public Works would partner the Business Trust EPWP Support Programme in rolling out a technical support strategy to assist 45 of the identified municipalities.