During the process of planning for infrastructure and services delivery for housing or waste management, it is important to assess how each service can be broken into components that can be undertaken by the public sector or private and community sectors. Such a breakdown should imply moving operations down the scale to those using labour-intensive methods, switching parts of major works to small-scale enterprises (SSEs) and to community contracts. As for roads, the argument is that the choice of technology in road construction comes down to a balance between capital cost and maintenance cost over a notional economic lifetime. In the operation and maintenance of water supplies, drains and sewerage, there is a vast potential for individual or consortia of SSEs and community contracts under the overall control of a major contractor.
Misallocation of resources, for example in the provision of residential water supply, results from central governments (and external funding agencies) taking too great a role in deciding what to install and how to operate it. Projects tend to fail when users have no sense of responsibility for the service. The Thai government dug wells, installed handpumps, and committed itself to maintaining them, only to find that the people continued to use their traditional surface water sources. In Tanzania better access to potable water was provided without support for recurrent costs. The people wanted the new facilities, but the systems rapidly fell into disrepair. Irrigation programmes tend to be biased toward big new projects at the expense of cheaper solutions, such as improving existing systems, developing smaller community-controlled facilities and improving rainfed farming methods.