The water and sanitation committees and the social management of a commong good in Nicaragua. The cases of the El Edén and Chompipe
The research presented in this article was carried out as part of my Masters in Urban Studies at El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City (2007-2009). I present here a comparative analysis of cases of social management of water in Nicaragua’s Water and Sanitation Committees (CAPS in Spanish). CAPS serve around 23% of the population in rural communities and peripheral urban areas. I studied the social management carried out by the committees drawing on Elinor Ostrom’s perspective about the management of the commons. Ostrom emphasised that the collective action of the population is the key for the success in managing the commons, and this is only possible through commonly agreed norms to develop strategies in relation to other actors. The main questions posed by the study were: Do CAPS in Nicaragua manage water as a common good? Are there any differences between rural and peripheral urban areas in relation to water management by the CAPS? I studied two relevant cases: a) the CAPS El Edén, located in a peripheral urban area of Managua, within the Chocoyero-El Brujo Natural Reserve, and b) the CAPS El Chompipe, located in a rural context and organized as a municipal water network. The main interest of the article is on identifying to what extent water management is carried out as a collective activity and how the geographical locations of the CAPS may affect their operation. I carried out my fieldwork in two stages that included interviews with national and local governmental and non-governmental actors, including members of the CAPS in the two communities. This article discusses the importance of the research findings within the framework of Nicaragua’s socio-institutional context and describes the methodological process followed in the research.
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