DFID’s transport and urban infrastructure investments

We found good performance on strategic approach and supporting multilateral finance, but a mixed record in the delivery of bilateral programmes.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 12 October 2018
  3. Type: Performance review
  4. Subject: Trade and economic development
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Pakistan, Uganda
  7. Lead commissioner: Tina Fahm
  8. SDGs covered:No poverty, Sustainable cities and communities, Responsible consumption and production, Climate action, Partnerships for the goals, Industry, innovation and infrastructure


Transport and urban infrastructure are key ingredients for economic growth and poverty reduction. Rural roads and bridges give poor people access to vital public services and markets to sell their goods, while highways, railways and ports link economically deprived areas to national and regional trading opportunities and can help reduce the prices of goods for consumers. Cities in developing countries will gain almost two billion new residents in the next two decades, putting urban infrastructure – including public transport, waste management and energy supply – under enormous strain. Growing cities can be engines of economic growth, but without well-planned infrastructure they can generate poverty and deprivation.

Experts agree that investment in transport and urban infrastructure in developing countries falls well below the level required to support economic growth and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

This review, published in October 2018, examines DFID’s transport and urban infrastructure investments, which over 2015 and 2016 consisted of 57 programmes with combined budgets of £3.9 billion. We made four recommendations and awarded a green-amber score.

The follow-up for this review was published in July 2020.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 1: No poverty
  • Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
  • Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
  • Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate action
  • Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
  • Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure



Published 16 Mar 2018

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 12 October 2018

Government response

Published 23 November 2018

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 13 February 2019

ICAI follow-up

23 July 2020