Avina
Gobernabilidad Democrática del Agua

Context
Latin America is a region that is extremely rich in water resources. However, according to the World Health Organization, 50 million Latin Americans live without access to safe drinking water, and 125 million lack basic sanitation services. The United Nations asserts that the world water crisis is more a matter of administration than scarcity. Governments have the responsibility and the obligation to recognize water as a public good and ensure that all citizens have access to water and sanitation services. In many cases supply is available primarily to privileged communities, leaving large rural areas and the urban periphery without basic access. Meanwhile, community water management models have proven effective in providing water to users in these areas, and have the potential to reach millions more.

 

Opportunities identified by AVINA and its allies
Strengthen and disseminate models for the democratic governance of water by community organizations, extending sustainable drinking water services to 5 million Latin Americans by the end of 2012.

 

Shared strategy for action
The strategy prioritized by AVINA focuses on promoting the democratic governance of water by emphasizing effective community management and alliances at the local, regional and/or international levels around coordinated action by key actors from different sectors. Our hypothesis is that if organized, civil society, in coordination with other sectors, has the ability to effectively help resolve problems of access to water services in Latin America in a responsible, equitable, democratic and transparent manner.

 

International alliances
To date AVINA has established close relationships with 151 people from a variety of sectors of society in 11 countries in Latin America. These allies have participated in open strategic dialogue to build shared approaches and strategies and to coordinate their implementation. We work with 32 community organizations and their associations that manage water resources in Latin America, representing thousands of communities in the region; 90 different civil society organizations, 10 individuals from the private sector, 16 local and national governments, and six technical experts. We also maintain key links with five representatives of regional cooperation agencies.


Our main international allies are: the Water and Youth International Movement (Agua y Juventud); the Brazilian Semi-arid Network (Articulação no Semiárido Brasileiro - ASA), and the Water Alliance (Alianza por el Agua). We co-founded the Clear Water Consortium (Consorcio Agua Clara) with CARE International and Ecología y Desarrollo (ECODES) from Spain. The Consortium specializes in promoting the democratic models of water resource management through community associations.

AVINA places priority on promoting the democratic governance of water, emphasizing community management and the establishment of effective partnerships on the local, regional and/or continental scale, with key actors from the three sectors.

 

 

Consultation process for water associations in El Salvador,
Ecuador and Paraguay

AVINA and its allies have organized public hearings with hundreds of community organizations in these countries in order to build an action plan based on the actual demands of local community administrators themselves. These meetings have the added benefit of providing opportunities for horizontal dialogue in which water associations exchange experiences among themselves and with relevant private sector and government actors in the process of defining common agendas to promote better community water management. In El Salvador, for example, one of the achievements was the decision to establish the National Association of Water Boards.

 

First meeting of sanitation boards in Paraguay
During the consultation process in Paraguay, more than 280 representatives of local sanitation boards met during four regional events, sparking a first-time dialogue among the country’s 12 different associations of sanitation boards. This was an historic meeting in that they had never previously met to share concerns and objectives. The meetings serve to strengthen local leadership. Another result was the establishment of a tri-annual strategic plan that encompasses communications, governmental relations, financing and better management.

 

Water fund consolidated for Lima and Callao, Peru
Anna Zucchetti of the GEA Group, an AVINA ally, succeeded in mobilizing joint investments and a wealth of public support for the establishment of the Lima and Callao water fund (AQUAFONDO). The objective of this initiative is to promote a new water culture in order to help resolve problems in the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín watersheds. Projects financed by income from the trust fund will protect and improve the availability and quality of water resources from the three watersheds. AQUAFONDO is promoted by Grupo GEA, the Fondo de las Américas and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). AVINA has followed this initiative from the beginning, as an outgrowth of the Urban Environmental Assessment and the Green Plan for Lima and Callao, initiatives that addressed the question of water supply in growing urban areas.

 

Despite Latin America being a region rich in water resources, 50 million people are without access to drinking water.