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UNDP, HSRC & DBSA
Conference on Overcoming Under-development in South Africa’s Second Economy
Anna McCord | 29 October 2004

This paper gives a critical review of the potential contribution of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to overcoming under-development and linking the second and first economies. The paper addresses the considerable disjunction between the presentation and aspirations related to the EPWP in the popular discourse, and the realities of the programme, in terms of scale and impact, which risks distorting the social protection debate in South Africa. It also highlights the sometimes contradictory labour market assumptions underlying the EPWP and concludes that the limited scale of employment offered under the EPWP, and the short duration of the employment period for each worker make it unlikely that the programme will have a significant impact on unemployment or poverty, at either household or national levels.

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