Service delivery in rural areas is more costly than in urban areas - a key challenge for governments at all levels. Rural policy needs to act as a platform coordinating national and sub-national resources to guarantee access to services and to identify public goods that are conducive to economic development.
However, the higher costs must be weighed against the benefits to a small share of the total population along with the overall benefits to society.
THE MAIN CHALLENGES:
Rural regions face a particular challenge in the form of relatively high costs of service delivery due to a number of factors:
Lower density populations,
Larger distances that have to be travelled by service users and service providers,
Small numbers of people in any location that preclude economies of scale.
STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE RURAL SERVICE DELIVERY
Placing end users at the community level are an integral part of the process; They are far better odds of providing services that are useful in the community and of providing them in a cost-effective way.
Consolidation of services - concentrating customers on a smaller number of service locations.
Co-location of services - basic overhead costs such as energy, security and administrative expenses, can be pooled, generating economies of scale.
Merging similar services - merge similar or substitute services and combines them into a single entity.
Alternative delivery options - where the demand for services is widely dispersed, it may be more efficient to bring the service to the user. e.g. mobile library services, dental clinics, and doctors.
Community-based solutions for different types of providers - volunteer fire departments, community owned shops.
Geolocation facilitates matching between the supply of and demand for services.
THE FACTORS IMPACTING THE COST OF RURAL SERVICE DELIVERY