Photo: AVINAPhoto: AVINAPhoto: AVINA


Among Latin America’s unusual paradoxes is the sharp contrast between its great water wealth and the fact that 50 million people live without access to drinking water.

Water distribution reflects the region’s tremendous social and economic disparities. Poor people in Latin America face the same problems of water scarcity as residents in the driest areas on the planet. This is especially puzzling considering that it is one of the rainiest regions on Earth.

Diseases caused by contaminated water have been largely eliminated in the industrialized world. However, according to figures from UNICEF, about 4,000 children in developing countries die every day from lack of drinkable water.

To address these injustices and ensure access to water in a system of fairness, solidarity and cooperation, citizens throughout Latin America have organized different models of community water management that have benefited a million people and have the potential of benefiting millions more.

Opportunity identified by Avina

Through initial investments, Avina has identified community solutions that are producing tangible, sustainable and scalable results to increase access to water.


Avina and its allies’ strategy for action

To strengthen community organizations and associations in areas such as leadership, management and technology.

To create national and regional networks for sharing innovation, best practices and technical knowledge.

To promote partnerships with participants in the public and private sectors in order to improve and expand water services.



To date, Avina has established relationships with more than 150 local partners in 11 countries in Latin America, Europe and the United States. Avina’s work platform consists of dozens of community organizations that manage water, and its associations represent thousands of community groups in the region.

Avina also works with 90 civil society organizations that focus on water, 10 private sector representatives in the region, 16 local and national governments, and six technicians and academics. Furthermore, Avina has established links with five representatives from regional cooperation agencies.

Avina’s main international partners on this issue are:

 CARE International and Ecology and Development Foundation (ECODES), with whom Avina has established the Agua Clara Consortium.

 International Water and Youth Movement composed of thousands of young people living in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 Brazilian Semi-Arid-ASA, which aims at providing access to water for more than 5 million people in northeastern Brazil.

 AKVO, based in Holland, an Internet portal for resources regarding water access projects.

 Water for People, an international organization supporting community management of water supply.


To achieve full social and political recognition of community organizations as participants in local development.

To refine and promote best practices in the building of programs and projects.

To incorporate innovative financing mechanisms and thereby increase the flow of funds to expand access to water.

To promote partnerships/networks among community groups in water management.

To support the reform of local legal frameworks to increase efficiency of water management services.

Some achievements with our allies

In a historic and unique occasion, Avina promoted a dialog among the twelve associations of sanitation boards in Paraguay. Avina brought together more than 280 representatives of these boards to participate in four regional events in which their representatives shared ideas and concerns.

Approval of Special Law on Water and Sanitation Committees (CAPS) in Nicaragua

Strategic participants in the Nicaragua Youth and Water Movement assisted in establishing the CAPS law in the region. The CAPS law will recognize the legal standing of more than 5,200 community organizations of water providers, giving them recognition as Small and Medium Enterprises (Pequeñas o Medianas Empresas, or PYMES).

This status change will help them strengthen their management and capability to provide this vital liquid to the more than a million Nicaraguans who now access water through community organizations.

First Latin American Meeting on Community Management of Water

In the Santa Cruz valleys of Bolivia, more than 200 representatives of community organizations delivering access to water from twelve Latin American countries met in August 2010 to share management experiences. They also talked about the importance of strengthening their participation in partnerships to achieve social and political recognition in the decision-making processes of their countries. One of the main outcomes of the event was the creation of a Latin American network of community water managers.

Datos Claves

  1. In order to satisfy our basic water needs, humans require 20 to 50 liters of clean, contamination-free drinking water per day.

  2. A child born in an industrialized country consumes between 30 and 50 times more water than a child born in the developing world.

  3. Close to one billion people in the world do not have access to drinking water.

  4. Every year, two million people die due to drinking untreated water, lack of hygiene and basic sanitation.

  5. It is estimated that globally, 260 million people suffer from schistosomiasis, a chronic parasitic disease caused by flatworms.

  6. Most of these people live in poor communities lacking access to drinking water or adequate sanitation. Every year, 88 million children are infected by this disease- causing parasite.

  7. Nearly 700 million people are at risk of infection by this parasitic disease because they are exposed to infested water during their agricultural, domestic and/or recreational activities.

    Source: World Health Organization (Water Sanitation and Health, WSH)

  8. Diarrhea causes six thousand deaths every day. Most of the victims are children under five years of age.

  9. Over 50 countries still report cases of cholera to the World Health Organization.