Impact of COVID-19 on public works programs: policy options in the short and medium term


The webinar shared experiences of how public works programs (PWP) are responding to the COVID-19 crisis and discussed policy options in the medium term, as instruments of social protection and macro-economic stabilisation. The COVID-19 crisis represents some major challenges to current and future PWP activity. PWPs are experiencing twin pressure: need to revise the existing programmes and expand public employment provision in short and medium term. It is now an urgent need to consider how best the design and implementation of PWP can be configured in response to COVID-19.  

In the immediate term the priorities are:

i) continuing to support the existing PWP caseload;

ii) supporting those no longer able to support themselves due to disruption of previous economic activities, both village inhabitants and also those returning to villages from cities, to ensure their continued ability to purchase food;

iii) using the programme to contribute to COVID-19 response.

To continue to provide social protection without adverse consequences in terms of contagion, within limits of lockdown, PWPs are adapting in various ways including increase wage rates, suspend program, waive work requirement, convert into cash transfers programs, and redeploy workers to support COVID-19 response. The webinar presented case studies to learn about these experiences.



Anna McCord, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Devan Pillay, Acting Director General, Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP), South Africa

Rajeev Ahal, Director Natural Resource Management & Agroecology, GIZ India 



Rodolfo Beazley, Independent Consultant


This was the twelfth webinar of the “Social protection responses to COVID-19” webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by the IPC-IGGIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Australia Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) collaboration with the platform, and in cooperation with partners from different organisations. Join our online community ''Social protection responses to COVID-19 [Task force]'' to learn more about the initiative and future webinars.