Restricted delivery of essential services to rural communities

Visualization of narrower problems
Inaccessibility of essential services in isolated communities
Lack of basic services and materials for rural communities
The need for basic services is increasing in all parts of the world. Despite advances of modern technology which have made it theoretically possible for necessary services to be within the reach of all the world's people, many communities are in fact cut-off from these basic amenities. Such necessities for effective participation in the modern world as transport services, all-weather roads and communication systems are often insufficient to meet requirements or are lacking altogether. Many communities may be only partially served with electricity or not served at all. Telephone services may be irregular or non-existent, as may medical services, both of which lead to unmet emergencies and continuing patterns of poor health care.

Although a community may be aware that all forms of development depend on materials and equipment, and although natural resources abound for the production of building materials, the cost of supplying, manufacturing and transporting such materials may be beyond its reach, and community leaders may lack the training and sophistication to negotiate successfully with the government structures in seeking necessary services. This implies a major decision on the part of the community before seeking government advice, needed information, doctor care, mechanical repairs or other essential services. Programmes necessary for the improvement of community life are therefore held up and the entire community may be deeply affected by a sense of remoteness and trapped by limited transport and communication possibilities. Continuance of such patterns of sparse services hinders the welfare and future growth of such communities. Residents become resigned to the absence of these essentials and adjust to living with inordinate amounts of time consumed in "making the best of it". The longer such services are curtailed, the greater the disparity between villages and urban areas.

[Developing countries] Many rural communities in developing countries are unable to participate in the benefits of a complete network of utilities and essential services, because of impassable roads, partial road maintenance, and drainage systems incapable of coping with rainy-season flooding. Transportation of individuals and goods is handicapped in many instances because there are few cars or trucks locally and because transportation on the highway is expensive, irregular and time-consuming. Most training opportunities require the individual to be gone from the village for extended periods of time. Infrequent transport to the nearest major centre may require being gone for a whole day and spending the night on the boat. There may be no systems for transporting residents to the nearest clinic or metropolitan city, thereby precluding treatment of any but the most critically ill. Fire hazards also pose a constant threat, and antiquated fire equipment cannot deal with such emergencies.

Developing countries suffer also from inadequate irrigation systems, lack of rural electrification and water supply. There is little opportunity to reverse the trend for children to suffer from malnutrition, which is aggravated by severely limited varieties and amounts of foods available from both the land and from nearby commercial stores. Although residents may attempt to secure essential services by seeking assistance through the appropriate channels, the complexity of the procedures involved, and the financial cost, combine to produce a growing sense of helplessness. Even heavy public spending on rural infrastructure will not help the poorest families, landless farm workers and smallholders, who can rarely afford the offered services.

Communications with the outside, perhaps through a radio phone, may require a specially trained operator, be difficult to hear, and be suitable only for emergencies. Lack of effective drainage systems may leave the area around homes swampy, unusable and a breeding ground for mosquitoes, parasites and other insects. Stagnant open pools of waste water remain around most outdoor washing areas, and homes have open pits for garbage. Inoperative health outposts, distant medical services and inaccessible dental care facilities drain the vitality of the people and reinforce the life style of backward isolation. In addition, the daily expenditure of energy required to function with the current rudimentary form of services severely minimizes productive output.

(D) Detailed problems