Experience indicates that the failure of the state to respond to the basic infrastructure service needs of the poor stems from the following key constraints:
- Lack of demand-responsiveness and transparency in selection; typically, line departments are supply driven and responsiveness is often skewed by ill-informed political pressure.
- Centralized line departments with little outreach at the local level.
- Multiplicity of service delivery institutions with no coordination and following disparate policies
- Lack of community participation and contribution at any level, resulting in lack of ownership by the communities. The misguided notion that the poor are unable to pay for services is deeply ingrained amongst decision makers. Traditionally communities do not contribute at all to the capital costs of investments, and are then expected to own them and contribute towards O&M.
- Lack of willingness to build on the communitys own efforts, or acknowledge the ability of the community to undertake community works. Where communities have undertaken internal or secondary and tertiary infrastructure, the state has disregarded these efforts, and also failed to provide the requisite external or primary infrastructure.
- High service levels and technical standards, resulting in unnecessarily high costs. Incremental improvements and appropriate standards are not generally considered in traditional approaches.
- Issues of governance and graft.
- Lack of resources for Operation and Maintenance of investments, coupled with lack of clear ownership and responsibility for undertaking O&M. Communities and Local Councils, who do not participate in identifying, planning and implementing infrastructure, have little incentive to maintain it.
- Poor Monitoring and Evaluation, resulting in ill informed management decisions and lack of information on actual impact; and finally,
- Lack of a clear policy framework to address these issues.
The crux of the problem lies in providing effective interfaces between the state machinery and the poor, to allow it to respond appropriately and effectively to their needs, and then embodying such best practices in policies.