MDGs, infrastructure and engineers' influence

MDGs, infrastructure and engineers' influence

How can infrastructure delivery help to achieve the MDG targets?

Key issues

  • Lack of infrastructure may be the single biggest factor holding back the development of poor countries
  • The attainment of the MDGs directly or indirectly depends on the delivery of infrastructure to provide decent shelter, transport links, affordable energy and access to safe water and sanitation systems

Building the infrastructure to deliver the MDGs is not about a single project, but about the delivery of many. Each one complex in itself – but at the right scale and with the right planning, perfectly feasible. Each project delivery plan developing surplus skills and resources that can be rolled out to the next series of projects – scaling up the response. ICE President Professor Paul Jowitt (2008)

Use infrastructure delivery procedures that allow physical needs to be met while addressing socio-economic issues

A way forward

The key to sustainable development is the creation of infrastructure that delivers outcomes measurable against the MDG targets. Engineering activities must be directed towards these outcomes.

Engineers must understand their role in society and promote the provision of long-term indigenous sustainable solutions that build local technical competence and stimulate local entrepreneurship.

Engineers must therefore:

  • Influence Governments and NGOs to implement procurement strategies that facilitate capacity building, participation of targeted enterprises and labour, increase employment, alleviate and reduce poverty
  • Design infrastructure that is not only fit for purpose but balances the needs for physical infrastructure with those for social infrastructures:
  • Promote construction and maintenance methods that are cost efficient and at the same time empower local communities. For instance labour based road construction and maintenance projects that create employment for local people
Politicians and economists have never delivered infrastructure. But they can will the means. Ultimately, it is down to the engineers working with and within the communities in need. ICE President Professor Paul Jowitt (2008)

Further Reading

Paul Jowitt (2008) Bootstrapping infrastructure: The driving force for sustainable development – Engineering Change: Towards a sustainable future in the developing world. Royal Academy of Engineering
Second ICE Middle East and Africa Conference (2010) Accelerating infrastructure delivery – improving the quality of life
Watermeyer, RB. (May 2006) Poverty Reduction Responses to the Millennium Development Goals. The Structural Engineer.