Our Work

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DFID Infrastructure and Cities for Economic Development (ICED)


SDDirect was a core partner in the DFID-funded Infrastructure and Cities for Economic Development (ICED), a catalytic facility designed to accelerate DFID’s infrastructure and cities initiatives across the world to contribute to poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth.

Launched in January 2016, the facility was managed by a PwC-led Alliance that included SDDirect, Adam Smith International, Arup, Engineers Against Poverty, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and MDY Legal.

ICED was designed to support DFID in playing a leading role in the infrastructure and urban development space. The ICED facility shaped a portfolio of programmes for DFID that support cities and infrastructure investment as engines of sustainable and inclusive growth. Its activities included:

  • Providing programme scoping and design support to DFID Country Offices and Regional Groups
  • Providing technical support to shape the delivery of existing infrastructure and urban programmes
  • Providing advice for future large-scale programming in the energy, urban and infrastructure sectors, addressing the complex challenges of resilience, inclusion, governance and fragility
  • Helping to build the evidence around urban and infrastructure programming through rapid technical advice from sector and cross-cutting experts, action research projects and policy briefings
  • Working with DFID’s international partners to promote robust infrastructure and cities initiatives

ICED recognised that gender and inclusion is fundamental to achieving inclusive growth and can contribute to the acceleration of infrastructure and urban development if mainstreamed effectively. In turn, infrastructure and cities programming provide key opportunities to enable and enhance inclusive growth efforts. As a core technical partner of this facility, SDDirect has supported the development of a programme of work and advisory capacity to support the mainstreaming of gender and inclusion in infrastructure and cities programming for inclusive growth. 

Specifically, SDDirect supported DFID to address challenges in turning its policy priorities around gender and inclusion into concrete action in infrastructure and urban programming. We have developed an ambitious vision for how the programme can contribute to both resilient and transformative growth, and actively promote a mainstreaming agenda that goes well beyond addressing the needs and vulnerabilities of the poorest and most marginalised within infrastructure and cities programming to seeking opportunities for achieving the structural transformation- social, economic and political - that is explicit in the Leave No-one Behind agenda.

SDDirect’s work included an ongoing focus on women’s economic empowerment. We have undertaken a scoping study on the crucial role of infrastructure in enabling women’s economic empowerment. The study was also used to inform a briefing note submitted to the authors of the High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment report, launched in September 2016, supporting DFID’s international leadership on women’s economic empowerment and spearheading a new focus to this leadership into the cities and infrastructure policy space.


Photo credit: Babak Fakhamzadeh (Cline Town, Sierra Leone)