Government and Water, How does anything get done?

As I continue to investigate the state of water in Peru and the sustainability of current practices, I am struck by how government has stalled forward progress.  Here’s a broad summary:

1981-  President Fernando Belaunde Terry merged water and sanitation services into the National Service of Water and Sewage Supply (SENAPA).  SENAPA consisted of 15 constituent companies and 10 operational units.  200 cities (20%) were not included and were responsible for administering their own services.

1985-1990-  President Alan Garcia pass a law transferring responsibility for rural water and sanitation functions to regional governments.  However, with the change in government in 1990, these changes never materialized.

Garcia also transferred all SENAPA companies and operational units to municipalities.  Going forward, SENAPA was only to give technical assistance.  This was also not implemented.

1990-2000-  President Alberto Fujimori moved toward commercializing and decentralizing water and sanitation services.  In 1992, he placed SENAPA under direct control of the president and created the National Water and Sewage Program (PRONAP).  In 1994, EPS was created.  EPS was a municipal utility that was legally and financially separate from the municipality.  The National Superintendence of Sanitation Services (SUNASS) was created.  However, no public-private partnership in water supply or sanitation was put in place during the Fujimori government.

2005-  The first water/sanitation concession was awarded in Tumbes while Alejandro Toledo was president.

2006-2011-  President Alan Garcia initiated “Agua Para Todos” and vowed to have water available to all before the end of his administration.  In 2006-2007 nine small towns (5,000-25,000 population) introduced a model program for water and sanitation services.  This model moved the decision making to the communities who would hire specialized operators overseen by a community based supervisory board.  After municipal elections in 2007, three new mayors abandoned the project and returned to the old model.  The other 6 cities continue to operate with specialized operators.

2011-2015  President Ollanta Humala has initiated construction on several large projects developing the infrastructure for water and sanitation in some areas.  One such project is in Callao, the major port of Lima.

It seems like each administration has developed and followed its own path.  Improvements overall certainly have been made, but many projects have just been abandoned.  Presidential elections occur every five years, as do local elections for mayors.  In 1999 it was estimated that EPS changed general managers on average every 17 months.  With this kind of turn over, how can there be a clearly defined plan to deliver water and sanitation services to all?
IMG_0345Here is a local example.  If you look closely, you can see a water reservoir situated on the hill on the right.  In the foreground you also see a water reservoir.  The one on the hill was built by a mayor who was in office around seven years ago.  The one in the foreground was built by his successor.  I was told that when the successor was asked why he didn’t complete the work on the first reservoir, he said it wasn’t his project.  Since it wasn’t his project, he didn’t want anything to do with it and he built his own.  As far as I know, there isn’t anything wrong with the first one.

Continuo a investigar el estado de agua en Perú y la sostenibilidad de los sistemas actual, pienso cómo el gobierno se ha estancado el progreso hacia adelante.  Acá es un resumen:

1981-  El presidente Fernando Belaúnde Terry combinó servicios de agua y saneamiento en SENAPA.  SENAPA consistió de 15 empresas y 10 unidades de operaciones.  200 ciudades no fueron incluidos y fueron responsables de la administración de sus propios servicios.

1985-1990-  Presidente Alan Garcia inicio una ley que transferió responsabilidad para servicios de agua y saneamiento rural a gobierno regional.  Pero, con el cambio de gobierno en 1990, estos cambios no pasaron. Presidente Garcia también tranferió todo de las empresas de SENAPA a las municipalidades.  SENAPA estaría responsable solo para ayuda técnica.  Esto también no paso.

1990-2000-  Presidente Alberto Fujimori quería comercializar y descentralizar servicios de agua y saneamiento.  En 1992, puso SENAPA baja control directo del presidente y creyó PRONAP.  En 1994, EPS creyó.  EPS era una cámara municipal que era  legalmente y financieramente independiente del municipalidad.  SUNASS creyó.  Sin embargo, ninguna asociación publica-privada estabilizó para servicios de agua y saneamiento durante la presidencia de Fujimori.

2005-  La primera concesión era concedido en Tumbes durante la presidencia de Alejandro Toledo.

2006-2011-  El presidente Alan Garcia empezó Agua Para Todos y prometió que toda la gente tendrián agua antes que terminó su administración.  En 2006 y 2007 nueve pueblos de 5-25 mil introdujeron un programa model para agua y saneamiento.  Esto model se mueve la proceso de decisiones a la comunidad.  La comunidad contratar a operadores especializados supervisados por cominitario consejo de supervisión basada.  Después de elecciones municipal, tres nuevos alcaldes abandonaron el proyecto.  Los otros seis pueblo continuaron.

Aparece que cada gobierno elaboró y inició sus propios proyectos.  Claro que hay mejora de servicios durante los últimos veinte años, pero muchos proyectos estaban abandonados.  En 1999 estimaba que EPS cambio sus gerentes cada 17 meses. Con tantos cambios de administración, ¿como puede ser un plan decisivo para entregar agua y saneamiento a todos?


Hay un ejemplo acá en Organos.  En esta photo hay dos embalses de agua.  Uno arriba, otro debajo.  El alcalde construyó el nuevo debajo.  Eligió a construir un de nuevo y no utilizó lo que era construido. ¿Por que?  Dijo que no es su propio proyecto.



  1. Hi Karen. Very interesting read. This new course will surely take your mind places.
    In the photo, where is this? Mancora? Organos?
    I look forward to reading more as your interest evolve.

  2. Why am I not surprised at your continued learning and interest in how things function?I have been busy with one thing and another.  And a little over a month ago I tripped on the concrete at Jeb’s shop and landed on my left hip, elbow, and knee.  It has slowed me down considerably.  Of course age could not have anything to do with slowing down!!!!  It seems that when I sit down, I find myself waking up after anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Needless to say, the house if showing the effects of my snoozing.Speaking of Jeb, he had all of his wisdom teeth removed.  Had to go to a specialist in Bend as the dentist here said he would not touch it.  He was off work and I went down to answer the phone for a couple days.  Things went o.k. I adjusted my attitude and actually got along with Jack during that time.  Jeb is back to work but has been slow getting feeling back in his face which concerned him.  But the local dentist said that this was not unusual.  Jeb’s operation time was expected to take 1 1/2 hours but took over 2 and Jeb questioned if the dentist used a crow bar to get the teeth out.  They were laying down instead of standing up.Hope all is going well down there.  Would love to be able to pick up the phone and call you.  Even better to have you drop in.  Of course you must give me a little warning before coming by so I can clear a path.Love to both of you.Joan    

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