Public-private community partnerships in infrastructure for the poor
There is an urgent need to improve the delivery of water and environmental sanitation services to the urban poor in low and middle-income countries to protect health and to promote sustainable livelihoods. Conventional support to public providers through loans for capital investment linked to capacity building has not achieved the desired results. There is a growing awareness of the need for institutional reform to overcome the all too common failures if service to the poor is to reach an acceptable level. The urban poor in Asia typically represent one quarter to one half of a fast growing urban area's population often dwelling in unplanned areas without any security of tenure. A study was undertaken in ten Asian countries to investigate the roles of and interaction between the public sector, private entities and civil society in serving the urban poor with water supply, sanitation and solid waste management. Case studies, including focus group discussions with low-income slum residents, were undertaken by country-based researchers distributed over a spectrum of service type, country population, city size and institutional|contract type to investigate the benefits of infrastructure partnerships. Analysis of the 20 studies confirmed the limited ability of existing public entities to reach the poor. The essential need for some level of service provision was being met by a mixture of poor quality self-provision, by informal private entities often at high, unregulated prices, or by innovative civil society involvement experiencing difficulties in scaling-up. A number of the new public private approaches were found to be successfully reforming the direct public providers; however these were usually serving poor people only by default through the general improvement in performance. A very limited number of public private community partnerships with international operators were found to be dramatically improving service to some of the poor, with better quality at lower price, but often with long-term uncertainty over contractual stability. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Volume (Year): 15 (2003)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
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