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Basic Services Alternatives

Options for Service Provision

Excerpted from:
Shelter, Infrastructure, and Services for the Poor in Developing Countries: Some Policy Options. UNCHS (Habitat). (Nairobi: UNCHS (Habitat), 1987) 3-4.

“...Limitations require [governments of developing countries] to explore a wide range of options for the provision of services, financing and land. They also give stress to the importance of public-private cooperation, self-help and private sector participation. Governments need seriously to explore other policies by which the public sector can create the ‘enabling conditions’ for the poor to obtain greater access to services and shelter through self-help and private initiative.” (UNCHS 3)

The major policy options for delivering services more effectively or for providing access to shelter and infrastructure for the poor in developing countries include the following:

a. Direct provision of services by national, metropolitan or local levels of administration;

b. Performance contracting by public-sector organizations to private organizations providing housing, infrastructure or services according to agreed specifications;

c. Service provision by public corporations, enterprises or special authorities;

d. Co-production, or the joint production of housing, infrastructure and services by public and private organizations;

e. Self-help provision of housing infrastructure or services by neighbourhood or mutual benefit organizations with input or assistance by the public authorities;

f. Private-sector provision of housing, infrastructure or services;

g. Public policies affecting the availability, cost or accessibility of services;

h. Public-sector financing or regulation of private-sector housing and infrastructure construction or service delivery.

Penang, Malaysia. Photo: R. Goethert.
Penang, Malaysia: The homes in the foreground are being replaced with the
highrises at the back - which is the better dwelling environment?
Photo: R. Goethert.
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