Implementing safeguard policies in infrastructure programming

What works in implementing safeguard policies on infrastructure programming?


Question for this helpdesk report:

  • What works in implementing safeguard policies on infrastructure programming?
  • What are the risks associated with exclusion factors more broadly?
  • What lessons can we learn from elsewhere on how to strengthen safeguard policies and implementation? (in particular around child labour/ exploitation etc.)
  • The enquirer was not specifically interested in safeguarding children – they would like to draw the lessons from this (more on the implementation side) that address all vulnerable groups and the environment

DFID’s infrastructure position paper states that ‘improved infrastructure service provision is crucial to delivering DFID’s economic and human development objectives’. This work includes energy, transport, water and sanitation, information communications technology (ICT), housing and urban infrastructure.

Infrastructure is central to achieving economic development and providing poor people with opportunities to escape poverty. ‘Reliable, accessible energy, transport and communication services support increased productivity, facilitate trade and create an environment in which business can flourish’. Access to infrastructure enables people to take advantage of economic opportunities and access markets, jobs, information and training.

However, in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, many hundreds of millions of people still lack access to electricity, transport and water and sanitation and inadequate infrastructure is consistently identified as a major barrier to doing business. DFID’s recent infrastructure aims included: water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, building rural roads and providing sustainable energy services. They do this through multiple partners in multiple countries.

The report gives many recommendations but the literature and particularly Kircherr and his team (who have worked and published on this issue) includes these 2 recommendations to strengthen adoption of international social safeguards:

  1. Fund environmental NGOs that function as the watchdogs for many private sector players
  2. Strengthen legislation/enforcement capabilities in host countries


Catherine Grant (2017). Implementing safeguard policies in infrastructure programming. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.23pp

Implementing safeguard policies in infrastructure programming

Published 27 January 2017