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  • The Urban Poor and Urban Basic Infrastructure Services in Asia

The Urban Poor and Urban Basic Infrastructure Services in Asia

Past Approaches and Emerging Challenges

Yue-man Yeung

English , 1991/01 HKIAPS, Occasional Paper Series Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

Tags: Asian Studies

215 x 140 mm , 59pp ISBN / ISSN : 9789624410075

  • US$3.00

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Since the end of World War II, rapid urbanization in Asia has created a significant demand for the provision of urban basic infrastructure services. The problem is expected to grow in the future. The urban poor are concentrated in Asia and more pronouncedly in South Asia. The present state of urban service provision is very inadequate in all the sectors including land, housing, water, sanitation, solid waste disposal, transport, electricity and public lighting. More than any other population group, the urban poor are usually served last owing to structural, traditional and attitudinal biases. Improvement of the access of the poor to basic urban services is a major challenge for Asian planners and policymakers, now as well as in the future. A variety of approaches to delivering urban services to the poor have been tried, with varying degrees of success. A trend seems to be emerging for multifaceted and integrated projects, with active beneficiary participation. On the basis of country and project experience in Asia, many lessons, both of success and failure, may be learned. Some of the more salient lessons may include the failure of top-down planning, the need for community participation, the merit of strengthening local governments, the urgency of investing in leadership and training, and increasing women's contributions. An examination of the Asian experience in delivering basic urban services highlights a host of key policy issues and alternatives. Foremost among these is the question of who pays for the services. It is an issue that local governments are particularly and commonly ill prepared to tackle in view of their low revenue base. Many other issues may be conceptualized, such as cost recovery versus subsidization, centralization versus decentralization, equity versus efficiency goals, public versus private sector provision, formal versus informal sector roles, high versus appropriate technologies, and so on. The paper concludes with a discussion on likely ways of meeting emerging challenges on delivering basic infrastructure services in Asian cities.

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