Governance in Developing Asia
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Governance in Developing Asia

Public Service Delivery and Empowerment

Edited by Anil B. Deolalikar, Shikha Jha and Pilipinas F. Quising

Governance in Developing Asia is one of the first books of its kind to provide an overview of the role that better governance and citizen empowerment can play in improving public service delivery in developing Asia. The World Development Report 2004 set a framework for public service delivery in terms of the short and long roads to accountability of service providers to citizens. More than a decade on, this important book revisits the issue and departs from the WDR framework, highlighting its shortcomings and offering alternative solutions. The contributors present fresh evidence on the relationship between governance and development outcomes, including growth and indicators of living standards. They argue that the Asia-Pacific region must do better in delivering essential public services if it wishes to continue improving the quality of life for millions of its people. They show how the quantity and quality of public services in a country can be improved if the government actively solicits citizen involvement in service delivery.
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Chapter 6: The state of public services in developing Asia

Anil B. Deolalikar and Shikha Jha


Developing Asia made great strides in improving its social indicators over the last quarter-century. Infant and child mortality rates are down significantly, as are maternal mortality, fertility and illiteracy rates. School enrollment at all levels has markedly increased and, even more impressively, the gender gap between male and female enrollment has narrowed appreciably. The proportion of the population with access to safe drinking water and better sanitation has grown remarkably. As a result, many countries in developing Asia have met or are on target to meet their Millennium Development Goals. An important factor—though obviously not the only one—in the region’s improved social outcomes has been an increase in the supply of public services, especially in education, health and infrastructure. This has occurred in large part because of improved fiscal situations, the result of rapid economic growth. The situation, however, is not entirely rosy, for three reasons. First, there are large variations across countries in the provision of public services. Second, there are large disparities in the provision of services within countries. And third, even though the poorest parts of developing Asia have made great progress in expanding access to public services, the quality of public services in these areas remains inadequate.

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