In developed countries, urban areas are the engines of economic growth and provide spaces for social transformation and political inclusion. Dynamic and prosperous cities are able to attract and retain both the talent and the capital investments necessary to generate economic opportunities and sustain high productivity levels by offering agglomeration economies with high-quality urban services and infrastructure. The delivery of widely accessible and efficiently functioning basic urban services is thus essential for urban areas to realize their full economic growth potential. As a result, the degree of success with which a country harnesses the power of urbanization serves as an important bellwether for inclusive and sustainable development.
The following section presents a review of the relevant literature on the topic of decentralization and urban service delivery. We build on the findings and perspectives in the existing literature to motivate our methodological approach. In section three, we provide details on our empirical strategy and methodology. In order to better understand the roles, discretion, and accountability mechanisms faced by urban local governments as they seek to provide three key urban services (SWM, water supply, and sanitation services), we collected comparative indicators for the institutional arrangements of 42 cities across 14 different countries in Africa and Asia. Section four offers comparative analyses of the fiscal, political, and administrative systems supporting service delivery at the local level. We analyze the intergovernmental institutional contexts across services and geographical contexts by correlating governance structures and other factors with service delivery outcomes. In section five, we offer concluding thoughts, discussing both the policy implications of our analysis and future research ambitions.