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Infrastructure Services – Access and Affordability

Infrastructure Services - Access and Affordability

Many households live in areas where they do not have access to water and electricity and when access is provided, the cost of the services is often such that they are not affordable for the poor. Implementing policies to improve the access to and affordability of water and electricity is a complex undertaking. DDVE’s work aims to document trends in access rates and analyze difficult ethical and distributional trade-offs faced by governments when setting residential tariffs and subsidies for water and subsidies. In addition to being useful for governments and donors, the work is expected to be of interest to many faith-based organizations active in providing access to better shelter for the poor.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: DDVE’s work on the access to and affordability of basic infrastructure services has initially focused on sub-Saharan Africa and has led to the publication of an overview report on the issues that served as background material for the Africa Region flagship study on infrastructure (see DDVE Study 2008-2, as well as DDVE working papers 2009-2 and 2009-3). Three additional studies are under finalization. The first focuses on access and affordability of water, while the second focuses on electricity. In addition, DDVE is finalizing a third study entitled “Infrastructure, Poverty and Gender in sub-Saharan Africa”. Based on these three studies, DDVE staff co-authored the chapter on infrastructure and poverty for the Africa Region’s flagship report that should be published in the Spring of 2009. Finally, DDVE is conducting another detailed study on access and affordability of electricity in Nigeria as a contribution to a large Bank operation in the country. 
  • Other continents: A program of work on access to and affordability of water and electricity similar to that implemented for the Africa region is currently underway for South Asia in collaboration with the region’s Sustainable Development Department and with funding from AusAid. Selected additional case studies on the distributional implications of utility tariffs are also being conducted for North Africa and the Middle East, and for Latin America. 
  • Faith-Based Organizations and shelter: In December 2006, the World Faiths Development Dialogue, DDVE, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center, and Habitat for Humanity International convened a meeting of faith-based and mainstream development practitioners to examine the intersections of faith and shelter. The meeting explored shared concerns on pressing needs surrounding decent shelter, from water and sanitation to productive employment. Participants agreed to pursue an exploratory “mapping” of activities by faith-inspired organizations to promote decent shelter to better inform development practice, clarify common concerns, promote complementarities and strategic partnerships, and identify critical gaps to be filled in support of local practitioners.  
  • Infrastructure, time use and gender: The lack of access to and affordability of infrastructure services has a wide range of implications, notably for education and health outcomes, but also for time use and the ability of households to improve their livelihoods. DDVE is conducting a study on Gender, Time Use and Infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa with support from the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan. The study uses household survey data to document patterns of time use and assess whether access to basic infrastructure would reduce working hours for women and free time for productive activities. The study serves as an input into a larger study on Infrastructure, Poverty and Gender in Africa which is also under completion. DDVE’s work on gender and time use follows up on previous work by DDVE staff on Gender, Time Use and Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (see DDVE Study 2007-2). DDVE is also represented in UNDP’s Expert group on unpaid work, economic development and human wellbeing and DDVE staff made a presentation of their work at the November 2008 Expert group meeting in New York.

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