Limited access to urban services Poor service delivery in urban environments Poor services motivation Underdevelopment of electricity, gas, water and sanitary services Inadequate public utilities in urban areas
Many urban neighbourhoods experience difficulty in gaining access to the benefits and services which society would normally consider their due, partly because of the intricately designed, complex delivery systems for such amenities, whether public or private. The complexity of urban government systems makes it overwhelmingly difficult to get speedy action on basic community problems like sewage back-up. Community credit is inhibited by the practice of "red-lining" by financial institutions, cutting off loans and mortgages to residents in depressed urban areas. Private services such as those offered by churches require membership or other obligations. Fundamentally, however, the problem lies in some communities' limited skills in functioning in the complex maze of city and private agencies which service them, resulting in their being effectively deprived of the benefits afforded to other communities. Development of such neighbourhoods requires skill in such procedures. Only when residents know what services are actually available to them and begin to experience success in meeting their own needs, will a community be able to participate with a new assurance and responsibility.
Despite heavy subsidies, many urban services are underprovided. Estimates by the World Bank indicate that 23% of of the urban population in developing countries in without potable water within 200 metres; the figure rises to 35% in sub-Saharan Africa. Road congestion is spreading and escalating transport costs have reduced productivity. Spending in many cities is not directed toward the appropriate services. In some cases, as in bus transport, large subsidies to public providers have squeezed out more efficient private providers. Basic services are being neglected. The cost of this neglect is particularly high when alternative private sources are either unavailable or too small to be efficient, as in the case of water and electricity.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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