© 2020

Governance for Urban Services

Access, Participation, Accountability, and Transparency

  • Shabbir Cheema

Part of the Advances in 21st Century Human Settlements book series (ACHS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Jorrit de Jong, Fernando Fernandez-Monge
    Pages 31-56
  3. Bharat Dahiya, Bradford Gentry
    Pages 77-105
  4. Annika Björkdahl, Lejla Somun-Krupalija
    Pages 107-126
  5. Adriana Alberti, Mariastefania Senese
    Pages 127-152
  6. Nguyen Duc Thanh, Pham Van Long, Nguyen Khac Giang
    Pages 255-279
  7. Camilla Rocca, Diego Fernández Fernández
    Pages 281-310

About this book


This book examines three vital issues in urbanization and democratization: the institutional structures and processes of urban local governance to improve access to urban services; their outcomes in relation to low-income groups’ access to services, citizen participation in local governance, accountability of local leaders and officials, and transparency in local governance; and the factors that influence access to urban services, especially for the poor and marginalized groups. Further, it describes decentralization policies, views of the residents of slums on the effectiveness of government programs, and innovations in inclusive local governance and access to urban services.


Urban Environmental Services Sustainable Urban Development Urban Governance Low-Income Residents Social Inclusion Political Inclusion Urban Service Delivery Budgeting in India Gender Equality Innovative Urban Governance Indonesia’s Urbanization Vietnam’s Urbanization

Editors and affiliations

  • Shabbir Cheema
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard Kennedy SchoolHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

About the editors

Shabbir Cheema is a Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Previously, he was the Director of the Democratic Governance Division of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) in New York and the Director of the Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative of East-West Center in Hawaii. His interests include democratic governance, urban management and public sector innovations. He has lived and worked in regional institutions and universities in Southeast Asia, East Asia and South Asia.

As a senior UN official, Cheema prepared the UNDP policy papers on democratic governance, urban management, human rights, and anti-corruption and provided leadership in crafting UN-assisted capacity development and advisory services programs in over 25 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Arab Region. He has taught at Universiti Sains Malaysia, University of Hawaii and New York University. He has undertaken consultancy assignments for the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, Swedish International Development Agency, Dubai School of Government and the United Nations. He holds a Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Hawaii.

He is the co-author of The Evolution of Development Thinking: Governance, Economics, Assistance and Security (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) and the author of Building Democratic Institutions (Kumarian Press, 2005), and Urban Shelter and Services (Praeger 1987). He is also a contributor and co-editor of the four-volume Series on Trends and Innovations in Governance (UNU Press, 2010); Decentralizing Governance (Brookings Institution Press in cooperation with Harvard University, 2007), Reinventing Government for the Twenty-First Century (Kumarian Press, 2003) and Urban Management: Policies and Innovations in Developing Countries (Praeger 1992).

Cheema has been a member of the advisory committees of the Swedish International Center for Local Democracy, HABITAT III, UNDP Governance Assessment Program, and the Pacific Basin Research Center. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Urbanization and Environment. A featured speaker at global and regional forums, he served as an advisor to the Dubai School of Government, Pakistan Institute for Economic Development, the Malaysian Academy for Leadership in Higher Education, and the UN Governance Center in Seoul, Korea.

Bibliographic information


“As urbanization continues apace across the world in the twenty-first century, policy makers, development practitioners, and citizens face deep dilemmas about providing services and promoting equity in new and old environments. This edited volume provides insightful guidance about how to assess and respond to these urban dilemmas. It is a book for our times.” (Merilee S. Grindle, Edward S. Mason Professor of International Development, Emerita Harvard Kennedy School)

“Shabbir Cheema has assembled a remarkable collection of assessments of how governments cope with the thorny problems of urban services in both developed and developing countries. Unlike the conventional urban studies that simply focus on urban politics or economics writ large, these chapters encompass both the theory of urban governance and the practical challenges of providing urban services efficiently and equitably. This comprehensive approach, vividly conveyed through case studies, provides an incisive guide for policymakers and activists dedicated to urban improvements.” (William Ascher, Donald C. McKenna Professor of the Government and Economics Claremont McKenna College, California, USA)

“The insightful and well documented studies in this volume provide readers with highly realistic perspectives of the challenges and promise of urban planning in the global south. As cities and their surrounding regions continue to grow, it will serve as a valuable and lasting contribution to the literature.” (Professor Gerard A. Finin, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, USA)

“Shabbir Cheema has given us a remarkable book on peri-urban development focusing upon the disparity of access to water, sanitation, shelter, waste management, health care and education. Given hyper-urbanization resulting from domestic and international migration, these impacted case studies of India, Pakistan, Indonesia, China and Vietnam will stimulate scholars and practitioners to unearth viable solutions for those marginalized by `elitist capture’. This roadmap ranges from participatory budgeting, ICT and the transparent assessment of democratic decentralizaiton to barriers which need to be overcome due to residence based social policy.” (Robert Isaak, Visiting Professor of International Management & Entrepreneurship, University of Mannheim, Germany)

“Shabbir Cheema has been a top academic and policy analyst for over 40 years, dissecting, summarizing and clarifying urban policy and practice in a variety of subtopics. Together with the group of distinguished authors, this volume brings fresh empirical data and ground-level perspective on how city administrations, often overloaded, manage to get services to expanding numbers of residents. The volume is valuable for the insights it offers in the role of governance and innovations in service delivery and access to the urban poor in Asia and Africa.” (Tim Campbell, Creative Writer, and former Principal Urban Sector Specialist of the World Bank and Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars)

“Shabbir Cheema is a thought leader who has put together the state-of-the-art on governance for urban services. He rightly focuses on how urban local governance can increase access of low-income groups to basic urban services through participatory mechanisms, accountability of public officials and transparency in decision-making. The book makes a vital contribution to bridging gaps between theory and practice by offering both conceptual overviews and detailed case studies primarily from Asia and Africa. Eight sets of factors that improve access to urban services and policy recommendations discussed in the book would be of great interest to students, scholars and urban planners and practitioners engaged in democratic local governance and innovations to promote inclusive urban development.” (Robertson Work, author and climate/justice activist; former UNDP deputy-director of democratic governance and principal policy adviser for decentralization, local governance, and urban development; and Wagner Graduate School of Public Policy professor of innovative leadership for sustainable development, New York University)