Bradbury (2003) defines a communityas a group of people who are socially related by virtue of identity with a particular location. This paper is aimed at determining whether communities are capable of managing and delivering basic services. The paper begins by looking at the problems with the delivery of basic services, next the different governance structures for basic service delivery are considered, some case studies follow and later on a conclusion is presented at the end.
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According to a UN Draft Report on Best Practices and Principles, basic services contribute to human dignity, quality of life and sustainable livelihood. Basic services are a prerequisite to the provisions of other services and improve everyone's potential to hold an economic activity.
There has been a tremendous increase in the number of people leaving from rural to urban areas in recent years. In Bangladesh for example, rapid urbanization has taken place because of three contributing factors which include (Singha, 2001):
Payne and Associates (2006) quoting from the UN (2006: p. 7) estimates that 998 million people were living in slums in 2006 worldwide. The population of Africans living in Urban areas is doubling every 20 years and majority of these people live in slums. It is estimated that nearly 3 billion additional people will need housing and urban services by 2030 (Payne and Associates, 2006) quoting UN (2005: p. 4). Payne and Associates (2006) attributes the rapid growth of the urban population to the unrivalled ability of urban areas to attract inward foreign direct investment and absorb surplus labour from rural areas without external subsidies. In addition, urban areas contribute disproportionately high percentages of government revenues in many developing countries, whilst remittance from urban workers provides a significant contribution of rural incomes. Payne and Associates (2006).
Following the increasing number of people in urban areas, the capacity of the government to provide for basic services is challenged. (Singha, 2001: p1). The growth rate of the urban population which currently stands at 25million a year represents a major challenge for local and national governments as well as the international community. (Payne and Associates, 2006). UN-HABITAT (2005: p. 2) asserts that governments do not always provide residents with basic services, but they are invariably involved in their provision and usually claim to be working to ensure that all residents have access to adequate water and sanitation. UN-HABITAT (2005: p. 2) defines urban governance for basic services as the full range of arrangements through which government and other actors work together to install and manage the water and sanitation systems. However, these arrangements often fail to adequately cater for the urban poor, who are at a disadvantage in both the market and in the public policy arena. (UN-HABITAT, 2005: p. 2). These disadvantages lead them to end up using water and sanitation systems that are unhealthy and even illegal. (UN-HABITAT, 2005: p. 2).
The UN Draft Report on Best Practices and Principles reports that basic services are unequally available and accessible throughout the world. Accordingly, many individuals, families, communities, and even entire cities and regions remain without basic services. Irrespective of the reasons, the report asserts that the result is that the poor are deprived from leading descent and dignified life thereby facing great difficulties to improve
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