|Delivery of Basic Infrastructure to Low Income Settlements: Issues and Options (HABITAT, 1986, 42 p.)|
Inadequacy of infrastructure and basic services causes poor health conditions, reduction of employment opportunities and degraded settlement environment. Such conditions are not conducive to a reasonable quality of life and provide few incentives for residents to improve their housing and neighbourhoods. The need to integrate infrastructure provision with overall human settlements development is well recognized and is based on the knowledge that upgrading infrastructure has a beneficial effect on human settlements and livability and efficiency.
Governments of developing countries are becoming increasingly concerned with improving the living conditions of urban and rural poor communities, and the provision of infrastructure and basic services has been recognized as one of the most important means of achieving this objective. Water supply and sanitation together play a key role in promoting health and usually rank highest of all expressed needs in low-income settlements. These elements are often the only infrastructure provided in low-income settlement-improvement programmes. After water supply and sanitation, perhaps next in importance, from health and environmental-improvement viewpoints, would be drainage and solid-waste disposal. Low-income settlements are frequently situated on land subject to flooding, and drainage will, therefore, often have a high priority amongst residents. Solid-waste disposal, generally, does not rate highly with low-income households, because of lack of awareness of the health hazards associated with improper waste disposal, but it is, nevertheless, an essential element in promoting community health and the efficient operation of other infrastructure facilities.
The need to improve low-income settlements by upgrading infrastructure is now recognized in most developing countries, but the ability to implement programmes is still limited. Various factors have acted to limit the ability of developing-country governments to deliver infrastructure to low-income settlements. While there are regional and national differences in the extent and importance of these factors, a majority of them are common to most developing countries. Because provision of infrastructure to low-income settlements has, hitherto, been largely neglected, institutional weaknesses predominate.
This paper presents an overview of the current status of infrastructure in developing countries and attempts to identify the principal factors constraining its delivery to low-income communities. Various options which could overcome the present problems are available to national governments, and these are reviewed and discussed with the aim of promoting policies and strategies that could improve the quality of life in human settlements in the remaining years of this century. Although amenities, such as roads, electricity supply, transport services, communications facilities, security and social services, are all essential for promoting economic opportunities and social stability, this report has been confined to those basic infrastructure components which are essential for promoting minimal health and environmental standards - water supply, sanitation, drainage and solid-waste disposal.