Regulating Service Delivery in Southern Cities

Rethinking urban heterogeneity

Authored by: Sylvy Jaglin

The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415818650
eBook ISBN: 9780203387832
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678202


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In cities everywhere, the concentration of people and activities is accompanied by the organization of essential services (water supply, sewage management, energy supply and waste collection, for instance). However, the ways in which these services are produced and regulated differ, as does the role of networked infrastructures and the public utilities that operate them. For historical reasons, the network, a set of interconnected structures, centrally planned and managed by a single monopoly-based public utility offering a uniform service in a given area according to an egalitarian access standard, has been perceived as the most efficient way to provide urban services to concentrations of population and activities in northern cities (Coutard 2010). Most of the solutions proposed for the provision of essential services in southern cities have therefore been formulated with a view to reproducing this conventional model (Maria 2006). Accordingly, critical assessments of these services have emphasized their deficiencies in terms of rationed supply, unreliable provision, unequal access, difficulties in delivering a universal service and sustaining viable operators, despite successive reforms (such as nationalization, decentralization and privatization). More generally, they insist on the distortions and failures of the conventional model when implemented in southern cities.

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