Infrastructure to serve the MDGs - Part One

Infrastructure to serve the MDGs - Part One

How can we use success lessons to develop effective infrastructure for MDGs


  • Forecasts for the demand of new infrastructure expressed at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ convention in Baltimore, 2004, indicated that approximately 80% of the world’s new infrastructure in 15 to 20 years time will be constructed in developing countries

  • With the large urban areas around the globe expected to experience significant growth over coming decades, it is very important that the infrastructure underpinning them be delivered successfully and sustainably

  • The provision of infrastructure is expected to be underpinned by poverty reduction objectives such as those relating to the stimulation of economic growth, the creation of jobs, the attainment of social progress and stability, and the promotion of sustainable utilisation of natural resources as opposed to a strict protectionist stance

  • Commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relating to poverty reduction in the delivery of effective infrastructure will require innovative responses from the engineering community


Watermeyer, R.B (2006) Poverty reduction responses to the Millennium Development Goals, The Structural Engineer.

The Brown Agenda

The Brown Agenda focuses on poverty and under development. It attempts to address the need to reduce environmental threats to health that arise from ineffective infrastructure: inadequate shelter, poor sanitary conditions, crowding, inadequate water provision, hazardous air and water pollution and accumulation of solid waste. It approaches sustainable development from the social angle laying emphasis on improving the quality of life of poor people.

While the social component of sustainable development in developed countries frequently focuses on social equity, human health and comfort, safe environment and heritage issues (the Green Agenda), the creation of jobs and access to safe and affordable basic infrastructure for poverty reduction constitute the focus of the developing countries.

In order to meet the MDG of poverty reduction, a balance needs to be found between the needs of people and the carrying capacity of the earth in such a manner that the needs of future generations can continue to be met. At the same time a measure of social and economic equity between individuals as well as communities, nations and generations must be found. This is necessary to ensure that basic human rights are respected, a fair and just society is created and increased prosperity for all is achieved.

Keep pace with the demands of eronomic growth, targeting key social issues for broader infrastructure access

Lessons for the delivery of infrastructure for MDGs

  • There is a need to integrate the systems and techniques that have been successfully used in pilot projects into the mainstream of public sector infrastructure delivery in responding to the MDGs. Strategies include:
  • Have an effective procurement strategy that will increase investment in infrastructure, reduce corrupt and fraudulent practices and ensure allocated budgets are spent timeously
  • Pursue rigorous project planning that combines technical expertise with political sensitivity and engagement with stakeholders
  • Focus project development on achieving successful operations as well as the delivery of the infrastructure
  • Develop the capacity required to ensure effective and efficient implementation
  • Provide work opportunities to vulnerable groups and business opportunities to the marginalised to address poverty and inequalities within a society
  • Ensure that those targeted make use of the opportunity presented through the provision of infrastructure