The effects of poor infrastructure in education, transport and communities

Infrastructure is directly linked to the economic development and growth of a country. 

It acts as a catalyst for the development of poverty alleviating solutions, providing access to basic needs such as health care, education, food resources, transportation, job opportunities and more. It also increases productivity and improves the quality of life for many communities. 

Infrastructure refers to the structures, facilities and systems that contribute to the function of a country. These include buildings, roads, bridges, airports, airways, power supplies, water and sanitation supplies, telecommunication systems and more. When these infrastructures are not operating properly, the chain of production is disrupted. This disruption hinders development, which causes economic deficit and, in turn, brings low standards of living. 

The social impact of transportation in SA’s poorest communities is under-considered. For example, when a community lacks transport infrastructure like roads, it means that the people from that community are unable to travel to cities. Or places where job and social networking opportunities, as well as quality health care facilities, are available. 

This leads to a deteriorating quality of life for people in this community. It means they’re also unable to contribute to the economic activity of the municipality in which they live, therefore, unable to contribute to the national economy at large. 

What are the causes of poor infrastructure?

There are several factors that contribute to poor infrastructure, and they include the lack of, or shortages, of funds, insufficient provision of developmental resources and inefficiency of developmental labour as well as poor repair and maintenance. The lack of infrastructure in poor communities significantly impacts the lives of the people living in these communities. 

Poor infrastructure examples include dilapidated classrooms, pit toilets and other damaged school infrastructure. These infrastructure problems in schools not only affect academic performance, but they also infringe on the rights to education, as well as the rights to safety and health of learners as well as of teachers. The effects of poor infrastructure in schools can also be seen in learners’ drop out rates and low-teachers retention rates. 

What are the solutions for poor infrastructure?

Solutions start with investments channelled toward infrastructure development in communities across the country. The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) procures funding to help accelerate the implementation of social and economic infrastructure projects such as transportation, education, health and more. 

Through our preparation project financing portfolio, we fund several large scale projects that result in the development of new and advanced school infrastructure. We also inject funds toward the upgrading of ageing, inadequate, unsafe and poor school infrastructure in previously disadvantaged communities. Additionally, the Bank has committed funds to public transport networks. This is done with the goal to ensure that safe, efficient and green transport systems are put in place. 

And, because public transport in South Africa is expensive, these systems are specifically designed to be accessible at affordable rates to people living in beneficiary communities. 

Through our non-lending infrastructure planning support portfolio, we also support under-resourced municipalities. We facilitate the creation of a cost-effective socio-economic municipal infrastructure. This, in turn, enhances the municipal revenues and improves the financial viability of the beneficiary municipalities. When municipalities are operating efficiently, they’re able to produce and offer sufficient services to the communities they serve. 

The people in these communities are able to access basic needs and opportunities. In addition, their livelihood improves, and youth empowerment becomes a possible reality.

Final thoughts

Poor infrastructure is a serious obstacle in the development of communities and in economic progress. It changes the lives of communities drastically and contributes to poverty. 

This is why DBSA prioritises socio-economic infrastructure by providing funds to development projects in SA’s most vulnerable areas. By doing so, the Bank has the power to help stimulate job creation as well as economic activity and growth.