Transforming Rural Water Governance
The Road from Resource Management to Political Activism in Nicaragua
In Transforming Rural Water Governance Sarah T. Romano explains the bottom-up development and political impact of community-based water and sanitation committees (CAPS) in Nicaragua. Romano traces the evolution of CAPS from rural resource management associations into a national political force through grassroots organizing and strategic alliances.
Resource management and service provision is inherently political: charging residents fees for service, determining rules for household water shutoffs and reconnections, and negotiating access to water sources with local property owners constitute just a few of the highly political endeavors resource management associations like CAPS undertake as part of their day-to-day work in their communities. Yet, for decades in Nicaragua, this local work did not reflect political activism. In the mid-2000s CAPS’ collective push for social change propelled them onto a national stage and into new roles as they demanded recognition from the government.
Romano argues that the transformation of Nicaragua’s CAPS into political actors is a promising example of the pursuit of sustainable and equitable water governance, particularly in Latin America. Transforming Rural Water Governance demonstrates that when activism informs public policy processes, the outcome is more inclusive governance and the potential for greater social and environmental justice.
“Romano’s focus on water providers that operate ‘below the radar’ of public policy-making is especially important in the water sector.”—Madeline Baer, author of Stemming the Tide: Human Rights and Water Policy in a Neoliberal World