Training for Rural Economic Empowerment


The Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE) programme aims to provide poor women and men in diverse geographical areas with the skills, development and knowledge needed to increase their income and their communities’ economic strength.

The problem addressed by the campaign: 
  • In general, rural people are the most disadvantaged in terms of access to services, including education and skills training, and are least served by infrastructure. Rural women, young adults and people with disabilities face even greater disadvantages and are often denied general services.
  • In Pakistan, nearly two-thirds of the population and 80% of the country’s poor people live in rural parts of the country. The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) is one of the poorest provinces in the region. Ongoing conflict in the area has impaired efforts to tackle poverty and all its dimensions.
  • A decade-old conflict in the southern island of Mindanao has led to declining economic activity, fewer employment opportunities and decreased personal income. Poverty incidence in the region has been reported at 75%.
  • In both countries, rural populations have suffered from peace and security issues for decades. Jobs and foreign investment are limited, as is governmental capacity to address poverty.
  • The TREE programme is based on the ILO’s longstanding experience in promoting community-based training worldwide. It addresses poverty and socio-economic challenges through skills development.
  • TREE training has three main phases:
  1. Identifying and assessing local economic opportunities before determining training;
  2. Designing and delivering community-based skills training, including assessing and building local trainers’ capacity; and
  3. Providing post-training services.
  • The TREE methodology was applied in Pakistan and the Philippines and adapted to local conditions.
  • In Pakistan, over 3,000 women and young men received skills and vocational training; in the Philippines, over 2,200 received skills training. For both countries, target groups were women, disenfranchised young men and disabled persons. In the Philippines, young male former combatants from Central Mindanao were a major targeted group.
  • In both countries, over 90% of the trained beneficiaries became either employed or self-employed. Average monthly income increased by more than 90% in the Philippines. The majority were women who began earning cash income for the first time and learned new skills, allowing them to increase their self-confidence and elevate their social status.
  • Tools continue to be used. In Pakistan, TREE has become a component of the national skills development strategy.
  • Institutions and local partners continue to implement TREE; participants continue to benefit from livelihood and improved earnings.
Why has it worked?: 
  • Builds on partnership: involves government, local communities, and employer and worker groups
  • Empowers local community target groups
  • Promotes strong ownership of the programme by beneficiaries and partners, thereby contributing to its sustainability
  • Provides comprehensive capacity building for partners to learn and know the TREE methodology, for institutionalization and replicability
Conclusions and Recommendations: 

Community-based training to move people in rural communities into more productive work is essential for reducing poverty and promoting social and economic development in rural regions.

Foundational Issues: 
Widespread unemployability
Level of Collaboration: 
Level 4: Collaboration on a global or multistakeholder level
Economic and political context: 


  • More than 12 million people joined the ranks of Pakistan’s poor between 1993 and 1999, when the poverty level reached 32% nationally. In the North West Frontier Province, poverty levels had increased from 35% to 43%, but rural areas suffered more than urban ones: Provincial towns saw poverty rates rise from 25% to 29%, but in rural areas it jumped from 37% to 45%.
  • Population: 187.3 million
  • Unemployment: 15% (2010)
  • GDP: US$ 174.9 billion (2010)


The Philippines:

  • The island of Mindanao has 14 of the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines. These 14 provinces are found in the areas covered by Special Zone for Peace and Development, which includes Mindanao and Palawan, and has been the centre of 28 years of armed conflict.
  • Population: 101,833,938 (2011)
  • Unemployment: 7.3% (2010)
  • GDP: US$ 188.7 billion (2010)
About the Author(s): 

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations with tripartite representation: governments, employers and workers that jointly shape labour standards and programmes supporting decent work for all.