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  • Author: Benjamin Edwards, Mohammad Hamze
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The world’s urban population is projected to add 2.5 billion people by 2050, with nearly 90 percent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. The provision of safe, clean drinking water in urban settings is a high priority for international development, and justifiably so. Drinking water that is protected from contamination improves health, education, and economic growth, yet roughly 150 million urban dwellers do not have access, with numbers on the rise. Fortunately, the problem has not gone unrecognized. An expansive body of work explores the causes of water market failures and the policy interventions national governments can use to mitigate them. This body of work, however, has paid less heed to local governments’ role in implementing those policies, a critical link in the chain of service provision.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Water, Cities
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Tatiana Lykova, Sergei Sivaev, Raymond J. Struyk, Ekaterina Petrova
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: When Russia's housing allowance program, the country's first means-tested program, was introduced in 1994, it was truly innovative. But there were difficulties from the start, many arising from the division of authority for setting program parameters among different levels of government and the potential for variation in the treatment of similar households in different cities. In 1996, the program's original simple basis for benefit determination was seriously impaired by the introduction of different principles for very low-income households. Moreover, local governments have exhibited a willingness to vary benefits from year-to-year, depending on political and budgetary considerations. The analysis presented here documents the impact of these variations on participation rates in a sample of Russian cities. Large inequities are obviously present in the treatment of similar households from city to city. Indeed, it is questionable whether the program as currently configured is fulfilling the social safety net function envisioned for it in the original legislation.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Sergei Sivaev, Raymond J. Struyk, Valentin Andrianov, Emin Askerov
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: During the past two winters, breakdowns in district heating services in Russia have grabbed international headlines. In Russia these services and water and sewerage services are the responsibility of municipal governments; these governments set the tariffs for these services. This article examines the tariff-setting process during 1997–2001 for these two services with particular emphasis on the decision process for considering tariff increases. We find that little progress has been made during the transition period in developing the legal base for rational tariff-setting procedures. Overall, tariff increases have been substantially less than the rate of inflation. Statistical analysis confirms that decisionmaking is highly politicized and that in times of extreme inflation tariff increases lag even further behind inflation, with the sector being used as a kind of shock absorber to cushion the full impacts of inflation on the population. There is an obvious acute need for leadership at the national level to address these problems.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Raymond Struyk, Douglas E. Whiteley
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: The objective of this paper is to introduce the concept of mortgage default insurance as developed in the United States into the context of Russian mortgage lending. The first part of the paper discusses the broad principles and operations of mortgage default insurance offered by private companies as it works in the United States. The pricing of this product and the preconditions for offering such insurance are highlighted. The second section outlines the operation of the U.S. government-supported default insurance offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The final part applies the foregoing information to the situation in Russia today and concludes that the conditions necessary for launching mortgage default insurance do not currently exist in the country. Nevertheless, there are a number of essential actions that can and should be taken over the next several months to put Russia on the road to establishing such insurance in a few years. The paper finishes with a possible action plan for the next two years.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Asia