Technical assistance for infrastructure: challenges and opportunities

IMC Worldwide’s long experience of implementing donor-funded infrastructure technical assistance programmes has provided us with the opportunity to reflect on the key ingredients that they should include to achieve sustainable impact.

Tuesday 12 September 2017, David Entwistle, Lorenza Geronimo

In September 2015, the United Nations member countries adopted 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030 to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity.

SDG 9 recognises the crucial role played by resilient infrastructure, such as roads and electrical power, in countries’ development.

Bilateral and multilateral organisations fund programmes that support the construction of critical infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries. However, apart from poor funding, another cause of inadequate infrastructure delivery is the skills gap in public institutions, which are often unable to plan, procure and finance sustainable services.

The lack of a national and regional enabling environment can lead to inefficiencies in state-funded infrastructure and discourage private financing.

To address this situation, development partners provide technical assistance (TA). Unlike direct financial aid, TA aims to develop recipient countries’ institutions and help them reform legal and regulatory frameworks in ways that make a sustainable difference far beyond one individual project.

When technical assistance programmes are well designed and implemented, they can dramatically improve lives in developing countries.

They can increase the capacity of the national private sector to deliver sustainable infrastructure while enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of state institutions to maintain it.

They can also help reduce corruption and increase infrastructure quality and safety, which results in better value for money.

This will help to attract much needed private investments in infrastructure programmes and, in turn, create employment among local populations.

Ultimately, technical assistance programmes can bring lasting change to a recipient country by accelerating its socio-economic development.

However, TA programmes should include some key ingredients if they are to achieve long-term, sustainable outcomes.

To learn what these ingredients are, click here and download the paper.

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