FIRE-D Guidebook Overview

Developing Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Infrastructure Services. A Guidebook for Project Implementers and Policy Makers in India

FIRE-D was a three-phased, USAID–funded activity that ran from 1994 to 2011 and was implemented by TCG International. The activity worked in tandem with India’s central, state, and city governments to develop sustainable urban environmental services and to ensure the poor have access to those services. The activity’s goals were tied to the following objectives:

  1. Increasing the participation of cities, the private sector, and community organizations in the development and delivery of commercially viable and socially inclusive urban infrastructure services
  2. Improving the ability of city and state governments, infrastructure agencies, and urban professionals to plan and manage urban growth, mobilize resources, and improve infrastructure services
  3. Supporting development of an urban infrastructure finance system


In 2011 FIRE-D published a culminating guidebook that documents lessons learned from its many pilot activities across India as well as recommended approaches. According to the Foreword,

“This guidebook describes a process to develop sustainable and inclusive  urban infrastructure. Based on the cooperative efforts of the Indian and United States governments over the last 17 years, since the passing of the 74th CAA, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded the Financial Institutions Reform and Expansion Program—Debt & Infrastructure, known as the FIRE (D) Program, to develop and test a comprehensive model. The program has assisted local, state, and national government bodies in India to develop and implement an innovative urban agenda that included market-based financing, improved municipal accounting, better access to urban services by the poor, municipal resource mobilization, a municipal credit rating system, and municipal laws, among other key topics. Many of these innovations were subsequently institutionalized as part of the JNNURM reform agenda.

This guidebook presents the FIRE (D) Program’s comprehensive approach, which has slowly evolved over the years, to demonstrate how a sustainable and inclusive urban infrastructure development process can be successfully implemented. The guidebook can benefit government officials, utility employees, private firms, educational institutions, and donors. These stakeholders are divided into two groups in this guidebook: those responsible for policy making and those responsible for project implementation (see the “Note on Policy Making” and the “Note on Implementing Projects”). The intent of this guidebook is to increase each group’s understanding of the other’s requirements, resources, and constraints, so that all stakeholders can more effectively achieve their common objective of making cities more livable.”