PPP Development Stage – Identifying Constraints
5.3 Specific constraints that affect the poor
Local governments have to be more honest about the constraints
they face in reaching the poor to the degree that is required.
Below a few of the most obvious and challenging barriers are highlighted.
Perhaps the primary constraint to the development of a partnership
that addresses the needs of the poorer groups effectively
is lack of political will. Often the situation involving the
poor is complex and the proportion of the population that this
disadvantaged group comprises could be too low to provide sufficient
political motivation – either to take the poor into consideration
in the first place, or to redesign the contract later on.
Political and institutional constraints
Often political and institutional limitations exist on the
development of more pro-poor attitudes within urban governments.
These constraints include: the complex political struggles
that often take place between national and local government;
overlapping responsibilities between different authorities or agencies;
and unrealistic expectations about what local authorities
can actually do with their very limited technical and institutional
The poor are never a homogeneous group: they differ markedly
by such factors as gender, age, ethnicity, race or location.
Occupational barriers, social barriers and gender-barriers,
which frequently overlap, can serve to prevent access to
the service either at the community or household level.
Thus, to be effective against poverty, economic policies
need to help break down the barriers of exclusion and discrimination
that prevent various social groups from taking part in economic
opportunities. Equity-sensitive economic policies can contribute
a great deal to achieving this objective. In many cases,
measures that are directly redistributive will also have to
play a complementary role. The objective is an equitable distribution
of economic opportunities, which then ensures everyone has
the material means to sustain a universally acceptable level
of basic human development.
Some of the solutions to address the barriers that the poor
face in connecting to established utilities include:
- reducing the price that the poor must pay to have a connection
- creating more favourable payment terms for the connection charge;
- in the case of water, facilitating more convenient access to
water at favourable payment terms through the installation
of water kiosks;
- using pre-paid water or electricity meters or debit card type
arrangements for water from standpoints;
- offering the poor a “menu” of service options,
beginning with a low-cost ground tank, for example, but
also including higher-cost alternatives such as a household connection.
The “time factor” may be a significant reason for the
historic under-representation of services to low-income communities
in many contract documents. However, time pressure should not become
an obstacle to better services for disadvantaged groups.