Water Utility Meets Citizen Participation

Case study from Bolivia

Context

Cases of corruption and malpractice at the municipal water and sanitation provider of Cochabamba in Bolivia (SEMAPA) led to financial difficulties for the company and the suspension of an Inter-American Development Bank loan.

 

Action and Outcomes

In response to these difficulties, SEMAPA introduced the position of Citizen Directors: community representatives selected to ensure water user interests are taken into account by the organization.

As a go between users and company employees, these Citizen Directors were able to compile evidence of widespread corruption within the company. Although initially resisted, the report was eventually made public, which led to a change in management and the launch of a legal investigation.