Community partnered projects: A case study of a collaborative effort to improve sanitation in a marginalized community in northwest Mexico

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There is a growing recognition in developing countries that community participation in water and sanitation projects is a necessary strategy in sustainable development. The main advantage of following such an approach is that, if participation can encourage a sense of ownership of the projects, the benefits of the project are more likely to extend over the long term. The case study at hand focuses on the challenges faced in implementing a wastewater treatment system to solve an environmental and public health problem in a rural community, Rosario de Tesopaco, in northwest Mexico. Until recently, the community has been unable to implement an effective plan to treat the wastewater generated in the community. The problems faced by the community can be attributed to the political arrangement of water and sanitation decentralization in Mexico that occurred in the mid 1980's, whereby communities were required to meet wastewater treatment standards, but were not given the technical and political guidance needed to achieve this goal. However, in this instance, cooperation between the authorities in Rosario de Tesopaco, the federal agency for social development, and an academic institution has led to the successful design and approval of a wastewater treatment project. This achievement can be attributed to the use of an effective collaborative strategy, tailoring the project to the needs and capacity of the local community, positioning the community as the leaders and owners of the project. A model for following this strategy for developing rural sanitation projects in Mexico is proposed. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Environment, Development and Sustainability