In Asia and Africa particularly, public works programs have significantly mitigated the negative effects of climatic risks on poor farmers, and farm laborers. These programs typically provide unskilled manual workers with short-term employment on projects such as road construction and maintenance, irrigation infrastructure, reforestation, and soil conservation. The implementation of these programs is being handled by small-scale private contractors, Non-Government Officials (NGOs), or social funds. The main constraint in implanting public works programs in much of Africa is due to lack of capacity. These constraints can be eased if donors coordinate their activities, and provide assistance to build private contracting capacity. This paper discusses the rationale behind workfare programs in Africa and Asia with respect to such design features as wage rates, labor intensity, and how they were selected and implemented. Available estimates and evaluations are used, and whether these programs have achieved their goals is presented. The paper concludes with summary lessons from experience.