Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) | Western Cape Government

Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)


The Programme's objectives are to use existing government and public entity budgets to reduce and alleviate unemployment and increase the ability of workers to earn an income, either through the labour market or through entrepreneurial activity.

The goal is to alleviate unemployment for a minimum of one million people (at least 60% women, 30% youth and 2% disabled people) in South Africa between 2004 and 2009.

Start: 2004
End: 2004

The EPWP was announced by President Thabo Mbeki in his State of the Nation Address in February 2003.


This nation-wide programme involves all spheres of government as well as state-owned enterprises. It aims to draw significant numbers of unemployed people into productive work and also contains a training component that will increase people's capacity to earn an income.

The EPWP focuses on 4 sectors:




This programme focuses on creating employment through civil works projects employing labour-intensive methods of contruction. Approximately 37,000 km of roads, 31,000 km of pipelines, 1,500 km of storm water drains and 150 km of urban sidewalks will be constructed.

This will result in 750,000 employment opportunities for targeted unemployed people in the areas where the projects take place. (Since the average duration of these projects is four months, this translates to 250,000 person-years of employment.) All the workers employed on these projects will receive training, funded by the Department of Labour.



The economic sector's learnership programme aims to include 3,000 unemployed people in entrepreneurship learnerships over the next five years. It is estimated that each micro-enterprise established will employ an additional three people.

The Learnership programme will help aspiring entrepreneurs to develop the skills and experience needed to set up SMMEs. Learners will be registrated on full-time SETA-funded learnerships and supported to set up micro-business. Learning contracts will provide practical experience for learners. The learners will graduate from their learnerships with the necessary technical knowledge to run their businesses, knowledge of how to tender for public sector projects, knowledge of how to run a business, an NQF qualification, experience and a credit track record.



Approximately 201,703 jobs will be created through programmes such as:

  • the Land Care programme
  • the People and Parks initiative
  • the Coastal Care programme
  • the Sustainable Land-based Livelihoods project
  • the Cleaning up SA programme
  • the Growing a Tourism Economy programme
  • Working for Water
  • the Wetlands project
  • the Fire programme


This programme will result in the clearing of alien vegetation from 200,000 hectares of land, rehabilitation of 40 wetlands, the creation of 20 fire protection associations, clean up of 700 kilometres of coast, trehabilitation of 10,000 hectares of land, creation of 32 waste management programmes and creation of 150 historical and community tourism projects.



Two programmes in the social development sector have been earmarked for the EPWP for 2004/5:

  • Home Community Based Care (HCBC)
  • Early Childhood Development (ECD).



The Home Community Based Care programme aims to create 122,240 work opportunities (17,400 of which will be through learnerships) over five years through a three pronged programme in partnership with the Health and Welfare Sector Education Authority (HWSETA).

The Early Childhood Development programme aims to develop skills amongst 19,800 child care practitioners over a period of five years, thereby increasing their capacity to generate an income and at the same time improve the care and learning environment of our children.

Detailed information on the Programme is available on the EPWP website.


Infrastructure Sector: R45 bn conditional infrastructure grants over next five years (targeting 1/3 of this)
Economic Sector: to be determined
Environmental and Cultural Sector: R4 billion over next five years
Social Development Sector: R600 million over the next five years

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The content on this page was last updated on 19 September 2017