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< prev - next > Social and economic development Economic Development KnO 100374_Income and Employment from Services (Printable PDF)
Income and employment from services
Practical Action
Although the community-managed systems in the slums studied in Faridpur seemed to be
functioning well, the literature suggests that the ongoing sustainable management of purely
volunteer-operated schemes is questionable, due to problems in terms of revenue collection for
cost-recovery and ensuring suitable O&M procedures are put in place (Sansom, 2006a: 4, UN-
Habitat, 2003: 185). However, volunteer-operation may be the most suitable choice for certain
social situations, such as where charging neighbours for water and sanitation services is culturally
unacceptable. This was found to be the case in Faridpur; not only was there a reluctance to
charge for water (which was felt should be available freely), slum communities also questioned
the logic of paying someone to provide services within their neighbourhood that they could provide
for themselves, free of charge. In addition, CBOs members are often socially knitted through
extended families, ethnicity and reciprocity. These relationships can add weight to feelings of
obligation to make voluntarily contributions for the good of the community.
While arguments exist both for and against purely volunteer-operated models, the literature
suggests that the success of such schemes may be more likely when:
CBOs act as partners (often with NGOs) in community-managed schemes (Sansom,
2006a: 4). Discussion of the importance of such partnerships may be found in Colin
and Lockwood (2002) and via the BPD website (see ‘Useful Websites’, below).
Long-term strategies for O&M are agreed at the planning stage of projects. Agreements
should involve both community and municipality, with clearly defined roles and
responsibilities as well as a means of enforcing the agreements. Incentives and mutual
benefits are required for all actors if they are to remain committed to maintaining the
infrastructure services (Sohail et al. 2001: 29, 44, 121).
In addition, outsourcing O&M to the local private sector is an option if community members
become tired of long-term voluntary inputs for community infrastructure (Sansom, 2006a: 14), or
where internal conflicts adversely affect the ability of volunteer-run systems to function
effectively. Outsourcing is also relevant for maintenance/repair tasks that are beyond the skills
capacity of community/CBO members - this is the case for the service providers shown in italics
in Table 2. The involvement in this way of skilled external service providers in slum infrastructure
services’ operation, maintenance and construction, is considered below.
Looking beyond the physical slum boundaries
Enterprises providing pit emptying and septic tank desludging services require a minimum
number of clients in order to be viable; these clients may be found in both low- and higher-
income urban areas, according to demand. Indeed, for many of the sanitation services listed
under the heading ‘direct income benefits’, service provision is occasional or one-off, and may
cover a wide geographical area and client base. The same applies to skilled handpump
mechanics and labourers linked to shops offering plumbing services. Similarly, the nature of
solid waste collection services is such that they may be operated locally within one slum, yet
equally they may extend into more affluent areas.
While there may be ways to promote direct income benefits for new service providers residing in
slums receiving infrastructure interventions, it is important to also consider established external
service providers and look for ways in which their incomes too may be maximised (created and
increased). Being skilled and in possession of the tools required for the job, external service
providers are often best suited to effectively deliver construction, operation, maintenance, and
management services in slums. Examples of situations where paid service provision would be
better a) performed by service providers (SP) who are slum residents, or b) outsourced to the
wider urban poor, are given in Table 3, below.
Existing service providers can also play a role in extending improved services into unserved or
underserved areas. These may include water vendors who transport water for sale. Prices
charged by water vendors typically exceed the cost of utility water, yet the benefits to users of
vendors’ services include flexibility in payment and time-savings from being relieved of having to
queue at public standposts (Kjellén and McGranahan, 2006: 9-10). Although there can be no
guarantee of the quality of water sold by vendors, it may be higher than that obtained from users
forced to resort to unimproved sources in an attempt to save the time spent queuing at