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.
Governments usually play a large role in the provision of urban services because private providers traditionally find it hard to make profits from such services. Efficient urban services are a pre-condition for economic growth. They include: urban transport, water supplies, power and housing. Urban-based firms need transport and communications to do business with each other, sanitary services to dispose of waste, and power to make their capital productive. Their workers need all these services and housing too.
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.