Nearshore Americas

Survey: Infrastructure Bottlenecks Hold Back Urban Residents in LATAM

By Narayan Ammachchi

Substandard public transport service and lack of access to basic amenities is preventing millions of Latin Americans from improving their living condition. Therefore, urban dwellers across the region are increasingly eager to participate in government decisions on infrastructure development, a new survey by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has found.

According to the report, population growth in cities is putting strong pressure on resources of local governments, leaving officials struggling to provide basic amenities for all residents.

“Latin American megacities are experiencing strong economic growth, presenting huge challenges to policymakers responsible for providing high-quality public infrastructure and services,” said Alexandre Meira da Rosa, manager of the IDB’s Infrastructure and Environment Sector.

Latin America is the world’s most urbanized region, with 82% of its population living in cities. By 2050, IDB says, it is expected to reach 90%.

In the survey, 76% of respondents said they were satisfied with their water service. Levels varied widely: in Bogota, only 2% said service is bad or very bad. In Mexico City, 28% were dissatisfied.

The survey showed that security remains the top priority for residents across the region. Nowadays, people are increasingly demanding that their governments be more transparent and allow their participation in devising new policies about infrastructure development.

According to the report, 28.1 million people in these cities commute at least 90 minutes a day. That is equivalent to 10 weeks of work a year per person.

The survey has also made bare of the widening gulf between haves and have-nots, and the growing discrimination against the urban poor. For example, the IDB says low-income households are subject to more blackouts and voltage fluctuations than higher-income households.

For the middle class, public transportation is a major factor affecting quality of life. For poorer households, lack of access to water, sanitation and electricity services continues to be a major obstacle to improving their living conditions.

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The survey involved 5,000 people in Buenos Aires, Mexico City and São Paulo, three megacities with more than 10 million people, as well as in Bogotá and Lima, two capitals likely to reach that category over the next decade. The IDB says it will meet with the governments in the region to help meet the basic requirements of the people.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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