How effective are interventions which seek to improve access and quality of civic infrastructure and services? What are the key characteristics of successful interventions?
With the rapid pace of urbanization, delivery and access to civic infrastructure services has become important and has been given special attention in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Evidence Summary (ES) synthesizes the evidence from Systematic Reviews (SRs) that have analysed the effectiveness of various interventions to improve access and quality of civic infrastructure services. The following interventions formed the scope of this ES: physical infrastructure investments, urban planning interventions, institutional and regulatory reforms, public private partnerships, participation from developmental & multi-lateral agencies, and involvement of community & non-governmental organizations. The sectors considered for this ES was: Water, Sanitation, Electricity, Telecom, Roads and public transport. The outcomes considered were: quality and access, in addition to long term impacts such as health, economy, quality of life and social impacts.
Twenty seven SRs that met the exclusion and inclusion criteria formed the evidence base for this ES. The water supply (19 SRs) sector has been the prominent focus sector of systematic reviews, followed by sanitation (8 SRs) and electricity (6 SRs). The public transportation has received very less attention (1 SR). Both – access (35 mentions in 27 SRs) and quality (34 mentions in 27 SRs) outcome have received equal attention of policy makers across different civic infrastructure sectors. In terms of interventions, physical infrastructure investment and urban planning interventions have been the most widely studied in the SRs. The SRs indicated that synthesis of evidence on long term impacts has been sparse. Among the different impact variables, evidence synthesis was most frequently found for the effect on health, though there were sectoral variations. The evidence from the SRs was largely positive on the effect of interventions on different outcomes.
Successful interventions in urban areas were characterised by the following: consideration to diverse aspect of policy making; financial support to economically weaker sections of the population when moving to a market economy; involvement of user community right from the design of intervention; monitoring of performance delivered by the service provider; recognizing upstream and downstream linkages of network infrastructure; ensuring that all stakeholders are well informed about the necessity for reforms and interventions; gradual implementation of reforms and interventions; transparent bidding process to select the service provider in case of private sector participation; and realization within the public sector to the role change from being a provider of civic services to that of a monitor or manager of service providers.