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By Paul Valéry

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We know very well that there is no education without roads, no education for girls without better service coverage in general since in many countries, girls bear the burden of the incidence of service delivery failures—they walk hours to get to market, to find wood and/or water (see Blackden and Wodon [2006] for a detailed analysis of time use patterns in Africa). We also know that mortality rates among the poorest are also related to bad access to infrastructure services. In spite of this wide coverage of experiences documenting these facts and establishing a very strong presumption of accuracy, there is still very little strong, cross-country, analytical evidence on the direct impact of infrastructure on poverty in Africa.

The more general point, however, is that the emphasis on the MDGs also failed to lead to a proper appreciation of the role of some activities left out of these highly visible targets, such as transport and energy. Yet, these are major inputs into many of the MDGs. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that health and education improve when infrastructure improves: indirectly, simply by improving access, and often 22 M Infrastructure and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa quite directly, for example, because medication can last longer if it can be put in a fridge that runs on electricity.

However, the repeated failures to achieve the expected poverty reduction impact derived from various forms of infrastructure interventions have in recent years justified the concern of many donors for a more systematic monitoring of these interventions, both ex-ante and ex-post. 2 for a very brief introduction to modern impact evaluation techniques and Estache [2010] for a survey of impact evaluations in infrastructure). 2 Modern impact evaluation techniques in a nutshell Impact evaluations aim to assess the specific outcomes attributable to a particular intervention.

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