There can be little doubt that the delivery, operation and maintenance of infrastructure are among the biggest challenges facing human settlements. In almost all countries infrastructure investment is less than it should be, and the quality of infrastructure services is deteriorating. For many millions in the world access to water and sanitation remains a far-off dream.
Governments continue to struggle to find the right balance between investment and maintenance, and between reducing backlogs versus new expansion. Most often the capital required is beyond the financial reach of governments, which is one of the reasons that the World Bank, among others, is operating in that domain. Developing countries are especially challenged in this regard although it impacts on developed countries as well: the United States has seen the condition of its infrastructure deteriorate over the past five years.
Many institutions have examined the problem and have produced “solutions” to assist governments in operating and maintaining their infrastructure with toolkits, management guidelines and strategies almost always appearing in the solutions offered.
There are those, however (myself included), who argue that the problem is systemic, and that a new infrastructure paradigm needs to be created and implemented. This new paradigm, it is suggested, needs to be built on a bottom-up