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, are 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.