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How to make public works work : a review of the experiences

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  • Ninno, Carlo del
  • Subbarao, Kalanidhi
  • Milazzo, Annamaria

Abstract

This paper reviews the experience with public works programs (PWPs) in several countries over the past 20 years to delineate use patterns and to determine the factors contributing to its use as a successful safety net program. The analysis shows that PWP have been used extensively in response to either a one-time large covariate shock, or repeated shocks. In low income countries, PWPs also have an antipoverty or poverty reduction objective. Our review shows that well designed and implemented PWPs can help mitigating income shocks; the program can also be used as an effective anti-poverty instrument. The paper examines the factors behind the observed wide variation in the effectiveness of the program in accomplishing its goals and identifies prerequisites for making PWPs successful safety net interventions capable of protecting the poor from income shocks, thus reducing both temporal and seasonal poverty, while creating useful public goods or services for the communities. For public works programs to be successful, it is important firstly to: a) have clear objectives; b) select projects that can create valuable public goods; and c) ensure predictable funding. Secondly, the success of the program depends critically on careful design and incorporation of all the key design features. Finally, a credible monitoring and evaluation system designed right upfront, prior to launching of theprogram can allow for mid course corrections and to respond to sudden changes which can inhibit effective implementation. The potential of the PWP program is enormous both in countries that have experiences with these programs and especially in countries that never used them. However, more research is needed investigation is needed to better understand the impact of PWPs, such as second round effects from the created assets, the impacts on the labor market, and their cost-effectiveness after factoring in both the immediate and second round benefits from its program.

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File URL: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2009/09/23/000333037_20090923234813/Rendered/PDF/485670Replacem138914B01PUBLIC100905.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 48567.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:48567

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Related research

Keywords: Safety Nets and Transfers; Rural Poverty Reduction; Labor Markets; Labor Policies; Public Sector Economics;

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Cited by:
  1. Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. & Semlali, Amina & Brodmann, Stefanie, 2010. "Non-public provision of active labor market programs in Arab- Mediterranean countries : an inventory of youth programs," Social Protection Discussion Papers 55673, The World Bank.
  2. Rita Almeida & Jere Behrman & David Robalino, 2012. "The Right Skills for the Job? Rethinking Training Policies for Workers," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13075, January.
  3. Gentilini, Ugo & Omamo, Steven Were, 2011. "Social protection 2.0: Exploring issues, evidence and debates in a globalizing world," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 329-340, June.
  4. Saraswat, Deepak, 2011. "Effect of employment guarantee on access to credit: Evidence from rural India," MPRA Paper 34671, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 13 Nov 2011.

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