Project Factsheet
Tools for » Strengthening the Effective and Democratic Management of Water and Sanitation to Support the Achievement of the MDGs
Project ID:00067187Description:MDGF-1816-A-MEX EcoGov
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 29 Oct 2007
MDGF Economic Governance
End Date*: 8 May 2012
Country: Mexico Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


Access to water and sewage systems is limited in Mexico, with a coverage of 71.5% and 58.8% respectively at the rural levels. Some five million Mexicans do not have access to safe water. Additionally, there is unequal access by women, especially those in small rural indigenous communities, to water resources and sewage systems. As a result, the Joint Programme selected target communities in the three states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Veracruz given the existence of high socio-economic vulnerability and their exposure to risks of hydro-meteorological nature. The communities were identified through a participatory process with selected counterparts.

The objectives are to increase awareness of the population on use, rights and management of water and sanitation, to develop tools to strengthen participatory and institutional management of water and sanitation, including risk management and gender equality, and to improve the democratic governance at the state and municipal levels to ensure that the knowledge gained through the JP will be applied by beneficiaries by the end of the programme. These objectives have been achieved and in some cases even exceeded the initial design of the logical framework, supported by the strong national institutional ownership and commitment at all levels (state, municipal, local) as well as the high number of participating actors. Another factor of positive achievement was the good inter-agency coordination mechanisms at regional level that created an enabling environment.

Key institutional counterparts at the state and municipal level and civil society identified the roles of the various actors in the judicial aspects of water and sanitation. This information led to improved decision making and management of the local resources to develop related infrastructure. A GIS (Geographical information system) was integrated in municipalities. Water sanitation and management brought forward as a key source that needs to be seen in the light of the local uses and customs.

Some changes in the legal framework allowed empowering small service providers for managing financial resources. Enhanced accountability and transparency in the management of water and sanitation services and information was achieved.  Capacity development enabled decision makers to take better and more informed decisions regarding the plans and investments to be made in the sector. In addition to the institutional capacity development, civil society also was strengthened, including the development of citizens groups to monitor the provision of water and including a gender perspective.


Outcome 1:

Knowledge and assessment of water and sanitation services, water resources and target population.

Outcome achievements:

  • Institutional counterparts at the state and municipal level, as well as civil society, have developed better knowledge on roles and responsibilities, including juridical and legal aspects, of water and sanitation as well as gender sensitive approach to information. This knowledge was used to improve the regulatory framework and decision making.
  • Decision makers in water, health, environment, disaster risk management, gender equality and economy, together with service providers, obtained baseline information on the status of water and sanitation services, and specific areas of improvements were identified. 3 state diagnosis documents were produced regarding service providers with information disaggregated at the municipal level. GIS information was collected in 8 of the 9 municipalities, to update the available information. The use of the TEST methodology was included in the SME regional week in Chiapas in 2011.
  • Institutional counterparts at state and municipal level gained an understanding of the risks to the local population, and this led to risk management and mitigation activities implementation. They also gained a better understanding on the need to include women in water and sanitation actions and particularly in disaster management. They also understood better the relation between water and local culture, and obtained information that allowed them to manage water and sanitation in accordance with local practices. 9 target municipalities identified the local counterpart actors in the education and communication sector, based on the Education and Communication for Development Strategy of the Joint Programme, in order to better understand the role of water and its relation with the local culture.


Outcome 2:

Tools to strengthen institutional capacities and citizens in the management of water and sanitation and risk management, developed in a participatory manner.

Outcome achievements:

  • State, municipal and community level capacities in water management were strengthened including modifications to the legal framework to grant access to small service providers to economic and financial resources. A proposal to modify the normative framework for water and sanitation was undertaken and 2 monitoring systems were developed with specific transparency indicators. The main achievement is to strengthen small service providers in Chiapas and Tabasco and public policy monitoring mechanisms by civil society.
  • Institutional capacities at the state, municipal and community levels were strengthened through gender-sensitive improved information, ethics and accountability
  • Decision making capacities in water, health, sanitation, environment and education were strengthened through the construction of pilot models, water management plan, in houses, schools and key municipal locations so beneficiaries are able to replicate these models. One demonstration pilot of the health household was built, 15 demonstrative pilots for rainwater collection were supplied, and 6 demonstrative pilots of health schools were supplied. In addition 9 demonstrative pilots for disinfection, supply and water storage were given.
  • Educational tools were developed for sustainable management of water resources with a communication plan targeting the institutions at state, municipal and community level. A citizen’s guide for democratic governance in water management was prepared with the University of Chiapas.


Outcome 3:

Strengthened democratic governance for the development, management, and implementation of policies on water and sanitation within a framework of equity and transparency.

Outcome achievements:

  • Advocacy for public policies that strengthen operational and administrative capacities of service providers, as well as tools to increase accountability and transparency of those service providers (9 cleaner production training modules) were provided; 8 SMEs in five municipalities received mentoring in TEST methodology implementation; 9 state and municipal institutions were trained in increased transparency and access to information and public participation to improve water and sanitation services.
  • 3 state and 9 municipal management committees were created for the implementation of the JP to establish democratic and inclusive processes in decision making of the Joint programme, in which all stakeholders were represented (civil society, three levels of government, academia, indigenous groups, etc.)
  • Strengthening of rural civil society, schools, and public officials in management and decision making on water and sanitation, health, and other aspects of watsan management was achieved. In 9 target municipalities the TEST (Transfer of Environmentally Sustainable Technologies) methodology was applied for cleaner production, environmental management, and social corporate responsibility. As a result of tools developed under the TEST methodology 8 service providers changed their water management system. Training regarding transparency and access to watsan services was given in all 9 municipalities to inhabitants and 2 citizen’s groups were formed for citizen monitoring of water and sanitation in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Xalapa. 6 schools in 4 municipalities received training in water and sanitation and the use of the healthy schools models installed, and another 7 schools in 5 municipalities were trained in water and sanitation.
  • The JP helped strengthen civil society and governments’ capacity to develop safe water plans, and promotion of public policies regarding climate change and civil protection risk management using a gender sensitive approach. A proposal was selected by the MDGF for best practice on the incorporation of gender within joint programmes.
  • Civil society was also strengthened by the use of municipal communication plans for development that addressed integrated management of water and sanitation.
  • Results were synthesized in a Governance document that was part of the Toolbox provided by the Joint Programme. In Chiapas, 9 institutions committed themselves to replicate and follow up on the work undertaken and 1 in Tabasco and in Veracruz. In addition three videos were produced.


Best practices:

  • Design and plan the Joint Programme document between the UN agencies involved.
  • Setting up thematic working groups to oversee field work and policy level work, and establishing national counterparts for the JP (State and Municipal Management Committees) that lead to ownership and enhances sustainability.
  • Commitments received from counterparts on activities to ensure the sustainability of the intervention and disseminate the results obtained.


Lessons learned:

  • At the design level, it is useful to realize joint field trips to appraise the feasibility of applying the activities of the Logical Framework as they are mentioned. A communication strategy for the Joint Programme has to be developed at the design phase. Another lesson is that field implementation should be undertaken jointly, not in isolation, to reduce transaction costs. Also it is important to identify which situations/decisions should be referred to (or not) the State and Municipal Management Committees.
  • It is important to consider the electoral and political agendas when organizing closing workshops in order not to be sidelined.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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