Importance of Infrastructure in the Pacific Infrastructure links people to services, markets and Jobs and helps people to live healthy and productive lives. It supports economic activity such as agriculture, fishing and the trade of goods and services, and assists with the delivery of health and education services. In some Pacific countries up to 60 per cent of the population have no access to safe drinking water; up to 70 per cent have no sanitation services and up to 85 per cent have no access to electricity.
In response to this challenge FRI. aims to improve infrastructure services in the region and build expertise and capacity to ensure the ongoing sustainability of infrastructure services. Access to basic infrastructure and services can have an impact in ways that we often take for granted. For example, access to electricity means that children can study at home in the evenings and teachers can prepare the next days class; reliable roads mean that farmers can take their produce to market, children can get to school and he sick can get to hospital.
Addressing this need is an important part of international development assistance. All infrastructure requires resources to ensure their everyday running and maintenance. FRI. aims to ensure there infrastructure services are managed in a sustainable manner. Learning from past experiences, FRI. aims to develop long term packages of assistance based on sectored approaches that align with country goals and systems. It seeks to pay specific attention to country capacity (both institutional ND fiscal) to manage the recurrent cost implications of infrastructure investments.
Sound analysis and an understanding of each country’s individual needs are crucial to addressing such sustainability issues. Pacific island countries face significant challenges to infrastructure service provision: Countries often have a large number of small islands and archipelagos, with different infrastructure requirements. Populations are often isolated, with low population densities and people living on small islands dotted across a vast region of ocean. People living in rural areas tend to have least access to infrastructure services.
Countries are vulnerable to natural disasters, cyclones, tsunamis, floods, volcanic activity and earthquakes. Infrastructure services are particularly vulnerable to damage in natural disasters and the cost of infrastructure rehabilitation can be substantial. Without proper maintenance, infrastructure assets have a short life and considerable investment is required to re-build. FRI. has a role as a catalyst to support and encourage investment in infrastructure in Pacific island countries.
Some key aspects of infrastructure management include: Life-cycle costing and pricing (including capital and recurrent costs such as maintenance and asset replacement) Cost recovery from user charges Subsidies Cross-substitution: urban/rural, business/residential Design, service and maintenance standards and capability Regulatory frameworks Private sector involvement Competition Environmental safeguard policies Resource management Accountability and performance management Financial management and accounting systems Asset management capability