WASH Library title: Water boards of Central America
Freshwater Action Network Central America -San Jose, CR, 2007?. Water boards of Central America : assessment of local management of water resources, a comparative study. [online] San Jose, Costa Rica: Freshwater Action Network Central America (FANCA).
Central governments or municipalities in Central America have generally constructed and administered aqueducts in the main cities. Smaller towns or villages, however, have frequently been left without access to these systems. As a reaction to this, communities in rural areas, not served by government entities, have arranged drinking water provision by means of communal cooperatives and water boards. Although they differ in each country, their origins, structures and incumbencies are very similar.
Water boards rank first on the scale of community participation. Some of them operate under shared management of the cooperative and the state, while others are managed entirely by the community cooperative, independently responsible for the funds they receive.
While governments are under public pressure to improve their water and hygiene coverage, to fulfil the Millennium Goals, especially in rural and suburban zones, the boards have contributed effectively to meet this global challenge. They contribute to the improvement in health conditions among the population, especially in the reduction of contagious diseases derived from scarcity of safe drinking water, making this vital commodity accessible to nearly a quarter of the total population.
Concurrently, they pose a valid alternative to promoters seeking to privatize these services, proposing schemes of concessions and public-private alliances. Although on occasions, it has been argued that the boards are private entities and concessionaries themselves, their non-profit nature in providing service evinces their differences and their legitimacy.
In this comparative study, their background, legal framework and management are investigated and compared.