The Community Work Programme is an innovative offering from government to provide a job safety net for unemployed people of working age. It provides a bridging opportunity for unemployed youth and others who are actively looking for employment opportunities.
The programme provides them with extra cash to support them in their search for full-time or part-time employment. Programme participants do community work thereby contributing to improvements that benefit all community members.
The programme gives participants a minimum number of regular days of work, typically two days a week, eight days a month, or 100 days a year and provides a predictable income stream. This employment safety net supplements existing livelihood strategies by offering a basic level of income security.
Community Work Programme sites have been established in marginalised economic areas, both rural and urban, where unemployment is high. Unemployed and underemployed men and women qualify to apply for work. The daily rate paid at present, and revised annually, is R71. Communities are actively involved in identifying ‘useful work’ needed in local areas.
The Community Work Programme is overseen be a Steering Committee which includes National Treasury, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affair and the Department of Public Works. The programme has been housed in the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs from April 2010.
Purpose of the CWP
- To provide an employment safety net. The CWP recognises that sustainable employment solutions will take time, particularly in reaching marginal economic areas.
- To contribute to the development of public assets and services in poor communities.
- To strengthen community development approaches.
- To improve the quality of life for people in marginalised economic areas by providing work experience, enhancing dignity and promoting social and economic inclusion.
The CWP was also designed to explore ways in which the concept of a minimum employment guarantee could be adapted to South African conditions. The concept of a minimum employment guarantee has been pioneered in India where the state acts as the ‘employer of last resort’ where markets cannot provide work to all who need it. In India, rural households are guaranteed 100 days of work a year.
Implementing the CWP
The CWP is an area-based programme that is established in a defined local area, called a site. Sites are usually a ward or municipal area and need formal support from relevant local government structures.
The programme is implemented at a national and local level. The Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) handles overall management and contracting.
Implementing Agents (IAs) contracted by CoGTA roll out the programme at a local level in partnership with local implementing agents. The IA is appointed to develop the site, provide financial, logistics and project management, while building local capacity through partnerships with local non-governmental organisations (NGO) and community-based organisations (CBOs).
These agents also work with the community and other stakeholders to identify ‘useful work’ that will benefit the community as a whole.
The CWP uses community participation to identify ‘useful work’ and priorities. This is usually through ward committees or local development forums. By adopting a community development approach, the CWP has demonstrated that it is possible to:
- Significantly expand service delivery in poor communities through the use of appropriate and effective community development and community participation strategies.
- Improve the day-to-day lives of vulnerable, poor and marginalised communities by helping to organise activities that communities feel are meaningful for them.
- Empower communities to address their core problems and meet basic needs while restoring the pride of communities in their environment.
The work performed in the CWP must be ‘useful work’. It must improve the quality of life in poor communities by helping to create and maintain community assets and develop services. This work is identified and prioritised through participatory processes, in ward committees or other agreed local development forums. This has required innovative community development approaches, which the CWP has enabled. In practice, the work performed is multi-sectoral, and typically includes a mix of activities such as home-based care, mapping orphans and vulnerable children, food gardens, environmental services, and the creation and maintenance of community assets such as parks, water tanks and roads.
Funding the CWP
The CWP is funded from the national budget. Wages have been set at R71 a day and R95 a day for supervisors, based on the wage-contribution approved in the national budget for the non-state sector of EPWP. Wages are paid directly into workers’ bank accounts.
The CWP prioritises labour-intensive activities and 65% of the money at site level goes to the workers. This ratio requires partnerships with other players to co-resource or co-fund activities with high material inputs.