An investigation into the procurement of urban infrastructure in developing countries
The poor in urban areas of developing countries suffer from inadequate tertiary (neighbourhood level) urban infrastructure; water and sanitation, solid waste, drainage, access pavements, street lighting and community buildings. Procurement of tertiary level infrastructure is the responsibility of the public sector. Rapid urbanisation is outstripping the already lacking resources of public sector. The involvement of private commercial sector in the procurement is through the micro-contracts. The term, 'micro-contracts', is proposed for the small and medium size contracts. In some cases a third sector like NGOs, CBOs and community groups have also played roles in the procurement of infrastructure. The processes, roles, relationships and performance of micro-contracts procured under routine and community participated strategies were explored with a view to promote the role of the community in the procurement process. The constraints to contract, relationship between public sector and community groups and ways to overcome those constraints were explored. The contract contexts were taken from India, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka. Both qualitative and quantitative techniques were used. A multiple case study approach was adopted for the research. During the research three hundred and ninety contracts, more than a hundred interviews and filed notes and more than two hundred documents related to the micro-contracts were reviewed and analysed. The concept of benchmarking was adopted in performance analysis. 'Community partnering' is proposed as a procurement strategy to facilitate the community to play different roles parallel to the roles of Client, Engineer and Contractor. The cost and benefits of community partnering were discussed. It was concluded that, for the similar conditions studied, the community partnering between the urban public sector and suitable urban communities is an appropriate procurement strategy. The recommendations include a number of actions which could be taken to promote the community role in urban infrastructure procurement. Areas of future research are proposed.