Water management decentralization in rural Honduras Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/cj82k9567

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  • Numerous water supply systems and community based water boards have been created with the aid of international organizations and NGOs in developing countries. These water systems have great potential to improve people’s social life and health in these countries. However, in reality, these water systems are often not effectively managed; often, they do not function well and are abandoned before the designed lifespan. Water boards, the community based organizations established to run the systems, could also stop functioning. At the same time, a highly centralized water and sanitation sector, which many of the developing countries have, results in lack of governmental assistance, especially in rural areas. One of the future directions to overcome this situation is decentralization, which gives more authorities to local governments and water boards. Honduras is a typical example of this water management issue, yet with high potential to be a future successful model for the decentralization. Since the 1990s, the national government has been trying to decentralize its water and sanitation sectors to give more authority to municipalities and local water boards in rural communities. At the same time, both government and community based organizations have been allocating circuit riders to visit the communities to provide technical and administrative assistance. Despite these efforts, there are still problems associated with water management and the decentralization processes. This study attempts to fathom the current issue pertaining to water systems and water boards in Honduras, particularly the impact of decentralization and the need for assistance in rural communities. I interviewed six water boards in three different rural areas to identify the current issues. In addition, related articles and the national laws were reviewed to understand the process of decentralization and the institutional structure of the water and sanitation sector. The study revealed that the rural communities have enough potential to administer their own water systems. However, they have not obtained much benefit or authority from decentralization. None of six communities interviewed is receiving regular support from the government. There are two communities which get regular external assistance and they are having less concern and are confident about maintaining the water systems. On the other hand, communities without any regular external assistance are experiencing difficulties in operating their water systems. In addition, there is less trust among people in these communities to get support from the inside. The study suggests that the national government should still proceed with decentralization but provide more financial and educational support to empower local governments and rural communities. In addition, local governments should facilitate cooperation between communities and resolve conflict between them. However, the most important thing is for rural communities to improve the situation by joining an organization which provides regular assistance or creating similar organization by themselves.
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