Building blocks for successful infrastructure projects
Donor support to infrastructure in fragile and conflict-affected areas has suffered from insufficient analysis of the context and poorly articulated and uncorroborated intervention logic, according to a study commissioned by DFID from the ENGAGE consortium, led by OPM.
The study drew on a literature review and case studies, focusing on DFID-supported infrastructure programmes in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal and South Sudan. Specifically, the study identified how infrastructure programmes can contribute to economic growth, poverty reduction and improved access to services, as well as their relationship to processes of stabilisation, peace-building and state-building.
Although the evidence base is in many areas weak, some clear conclusions emerged about the strengths and weaknesses of past engagement, including:
- The weakness of the evidence base on key causal relationships needs to be addressed.
- Infrastructure programmes require a clearly articulated theory of change that can be adapted over time, contextual analysis, and to explicitly state how they intend to address conflict and fragility, either as primary or secondary objectives. This approach should be rooted in analysis of the political economy, the risks and potential causes of conflict and their implications for infrastructure programmes, as well as the relationship between these programmes and stabilisation and peace-building efforts.
- A clear strategic framework for intervention is required that recognises that different forms of programme and engagement may be required at different stages, particularly in the process of stabilisation and emergence from conflict. However, it is important that the long-term objectives of building capacity and ensuring sustainable and effective infrastructure provision are not compromised by short-term measures. As a result, long-term commitment is needed.
- A sustained focus on capacity development and institution-building is also required, covering both the public and private sectors.
- Finally, community engagement is critical to success, and should be fully recognised in the design and implementation of the programme.