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Institutional Structures in the Water and Sanitation Sector

Author(s): Perspectives for a new platform in Honduras
Congress: 2008
Author(s): Patricia Phumpiu, Jan Erik Gustafsson
KTH-Royal Institute of Technology Department of Land and Water Resources Engineering Sweden

Keyword(s): Institutions, Institutional Reform, Institutional Structure, Institutional Framework, Honduras,
AbstractIntroduction The water and sanitation sector has been in the eye of the storm, when referring to institutional reforms in Latin America (LA). Concepts and methodologies have been imported from western countries and these have required adjustments in existing policies and regulatory frameworks in LA countries. The paper focuses on understanding the process for Water Institutional Reform in Honduras. It evaluates the effects of the Water Institutional Reform by examining the impacts on institutions and the relationships among actors. The analysis is carried out within the new institutionalism theory and water governance concept. Socio-political-cultural aspects are analysed to identify landmarks in behaviour and events that may have led to choices that could prevail in the future. The paper looks closely at the current water institutional design that may influence or set conditions on the interrelationship between water resources availability, societal water demand, infrastructure development needs, and socio-political and cultural aspects. It also takes into account that several geographical, natural factors and non- expected events had affected institutional trends. The value added to this paper is impact analysis of the water institutional reform currently on the way. Objectives The research questions respond to: Are the new institutions in the water and sanitation sector delivering an improved platform in practice? What is the degree of dependence to the old institutional structure? The paper examines the role of old and new water institutions within the new institutional arrangement, followed by the analysis of three issues: i) the state of the art of regulation inside the national government, ii) the participation of actors and their responses to changes, and iii) the usage of the institutional design to set and prioritize the policies within their management and investment plans. Conclusions This study argues that within the Water Institutional Reform, the establishment of the institutional structure is progressing according to political willingness and local pressures. In the implementation, old and new water institutions depend greatly on the role of executives and regulator. At the local level, communities are recurring to the ‘every day problem-solving’ strategies, which are difficult to monitor from the high national or even local governmental level. The lack of funding restricts the role of the government as a state controller into medium-small localities in Honduras, transforming the communities into their own controller and provider by self-managing their drinking water resources. Thus, institutional arrangements are the opportunity for envisioning problems and projects at a medium or long term period. Water Institutional Reform in Honduras offers relative improvement and has the opportunity to improve implementation failures by taking into account the technical and community network resources that are already in place country wise. By taking advantage of the already established spaces for negotiation and political bargaining, intervention and participation are legalized mechanisms towards water development. Most of the interventions at the local level are efficient; however their illegal condition undermines future developments.
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