Multi-purpose infrastructure

Infrastructure assets and systems that serve more than one primary objective or purpose. The multi-purpose nature of such systems offers better value for money and a promise of sustainability due to the sheer variety of users that would have an interest in the maintenance and upkeep of the system for diverse reasons.


1. The term has traditionally been used in the context of Multi-Purpose Water Infrastructure (MPWI) comprising all constructed water systems, including dams, dykes, reservoirs and associated irrigation canals and water supply networks, which may be used concomitantly for economic, social and environmental activities.

2. It has been observed that often single-purpose infrastructure evolves into multi-purpose use over time. As a result, to derive best value for money and for the sustainability of projects, infrastructure assets are now often conceptualised for multiple use by design.


Reference for Note 1: OECD (2017). Multi-Purpose Water Infrastructure: Recommendations to maximise economic benefits, OECD Environment Directorate.


Shardara Multi-purpose Water Infrastructure (MPWI), Kazakhstan

As a result of the National Policy Dialogue on water, facilitated by the OECD and UNECE, the Kazakhstan government recognizes the potential of Multi-Purpose Water Infrastructure (MPWI) for contributing to overall economic growth. The Shardara reservoir, located in the Low Syr Darya region of Kazakhstan, encompasses the entire Aral Lower Syr Darya basin, which receives a significant portion of its water flow from beyond the borders of Kazakhstan.

Originally designed for irrigation, the Shardara reservoir has proven to be a valuable asset, protecting downstream communities from devastating floods. Over time, the reservoir has evolved into a multi-purpose facility that provides a range of services, including irrigation, livestock support, hydropower generation, potable water supply, flood control, and commercial fisheries. Additionally, recreational activities are being planned for the future, further expanding the positive impact of the Shardara MPWI on the region.


Source: OECD. (2017). Multi-purpose water infrastructure - Recommendations to maximise economic benefits. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved February 10, 2023.