Rebuilding roads in Indonesia
USAID-supported road project programs have greatly improved Indonesia's road recovery efforts after the 2006 tsunami.

In many developing countries, basic infrastructure – power, water, sanitation, information and communications technologies, and roads —is failing, insufficient, or non-existent.  

For example, in Afghanistan, only about 30 percent of the people have access to reliable sources of electricity and just 27 percent have access to safe drinking water overall.

  • About 2.6 billion people in the developing world lack access to electricity full time. 

  • Nearly 800 million people worldwide lack access to water, and about 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation.  

  • Approximately 1-1.5 billion people have no reliable phone service.

  • Just over 20 percent of people in developing countries have access to the internet.

Inadequate access to infrastructure is a key barrier to economic growth.  It inhibits access to health care, education, and markets. The lagging global economy and a spike in energy prices have put enormous pressure on public budgets in many USAID partner countries, stalling investments in new infrastructure and preventing needed maintenance.

USAID finances the design and construction of energy, roads, communications and water infrastructure, as well as schools and health facilities in more than 60 countries. Particular emphasis is placed on construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure in conflict and disaster-affected countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Haiti, where improved infrastructure improves stability and fuels economic recovery. 

While USAID spends about $1 billion on infrastructure projects annually in conflict and crisis-affected countries, this meets only a small portion of their overall infrastructure needs. To ensure that infrastructure investments are economically viable, USAID helps to create sustainable local institutions to finance and manage infrastructure and sound legal and regulatory environments to govern its operation.

The Agency’s approach to infrastructure is more than just “bricks and mortar”.

Investments in infrastructure in emerging and developing countries are estimated to account for the vast majority of the financing required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.  Given the scale of investment required, private financing for infrastructure development is required. Through USAID’s Office of Private Capital and Microenterprise, the Agency is working to attract greater private investment to infrastructure, including patient capital sources such as pension funds.

Some examples of results achieved include:

  • With USAID assistance, Afghanistan’s newly commercialized national electric company in Kabul has reduced electricity loss, due to poor billing, illegal connections or inefficiencies, from 60 percent to about 35 percent, improving the long-term sustainability and reliability of the system for its customers.

  • On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, a USAID- supported program has provided electricity to more than 13,000 households in 474 remote rural villages using solar photovoltaic cell and micro-hydro power systems. 

  • In Jordan, one of the world’s driest countries, USAID supported the design and construction of a new wastewater treatment plant to meet the needs of two million residents of Amman and Zarqa. The plant is treating wastewater at a level that meets the standards for discharge into streams and river valleys.

  • USAID helped to operationalize Vietnam’s Telecommunications Fund (VTF), created through fees placed on telecommunication carriers to support the extension of voice and internet services.  The fund now collects and distributes over $100 million annually and is responsible for the expansion of telecommunications services to millions of people living in rural areas.  Through its Global Broadband and Innovations (GBI) program, USAID is working to improve the operations of similar funds in several other countries. Such funds allow partner countries to play a significant role in financing the expansion of internet services for their citizens.

  • With USAID assistance, Ukraine is privatizing four regional electricity distribution companies, which are currently unreliable, inefficient and in critical need of upgrades despite subsidies from the Ukrainian government. The sale is estimated to raise $100 million in funds for the Ukrainian budget, and will facilitate as much as $250 million in investment commitments to modernize outdated equipment and improve the reliability and viability of Ukraine’s energy sector.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: March 14, 2017

Share This Page