The Politics of Making Drinking Water Accessible

  Hondurans have rights, just not very many.

According to a report by the World Bank Group titled, “Modernizing the Water and Sanitation Sector Builds Resilience,” serious efforts by the Honduran government have resulted in considerable progress in making drinking water accessible to many but not all residents: the excluded and marginalized inhabitants who live in various urban and rural communities. 

Prior to the passing of the law in 2003, called Ley Marco, the Honduran residents in the municipalities that had access to drinking water enjoyed it for a few hours a week, some as much as three days a week. The Ley Marco established the mandate to making water more accessible by decentralizing the supply of water and transferring the provider responsibilities to municipal governments. With the assistance of a World Bank loan, the government pushed for the creation of autonomous municipal service providers. During this collaborative effort, the government succeeded in achieving many of its goals within a set timeframe, and finally, residents had considerable more drinking water, up to 24 hours a day in some areas. 

But the project ended in 2016, and many communities such as the one in the video were excluded, and in the final analysis, the government was faulted in several key areas. Ineffectiveness or incompetence amongst the governing entity led to the squandering of financial resources, essential for maintaining and upgrading the equipment, for policy development, and for lack of transparency. Making drinking water accessible to all residents became a political nightmare for local officials who sought to strike a balance between making water accessible to as many as possible and expanding a gratuitous service to the poor that could not afford it. But within the power grab exploits of greedy politicians, those that were excluded, the poor and voiceless, lacked the leverage to hold accountable the responsible parties.

It’s the same ploy used by the government to systematically take away the democratic rights of its people. Case in point: the Honduran educators and health workers are in a power struggle with the government to maintain their right to determine what is in the best interest of teachers and students, and the future of their educational institutions. 

The story of how residents lost their democratic right to make a reasonable demand on their government to make drinking water accessible is a good example of the strategy that the Honduran government and politicians have adopted for the purpose of monopolizing power and silver lining their pockets. The strategy of systematically diminishing the democratic rights and freedoms of the people by a government that practices a weak form of democracy include: maintaining control in decentralization, manipulation of votes and funds, using slush fund allocations to promote their political agenda and play political favorites, and weakening their opponents by lessening their power to hold those responsible accountable for corruption and/or incompetence.      

See next article: The Choluteca River is Drying Up

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