© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Due to lack of economic resources and the geographical dispersion of the population, state and private for-profit water provision is not feasible in many remote rural areas of developing countries. In such instances, community-managed water systems emerge as an alternative mechanism to provide safe water. Despite their importance, little is known about this type of organizations. This article examines the Juntas Administradoras de Servicios de Saneamiento (JASS), communal organizations that provide water services to more than 3 million people in rural and peri-urban areas of Peru. We focus on two important and related dimensions of the JASS. First, we empirically identify the factors associated to their existence (economic resources of the municipalities, tradition of communal work, and ethnic homogeneity). And second, we examine their organization and how they manage the water systems, which is importantly affected by the socioeconomic characteristics of the communities. Using the Peruvian JASS as a showcase, this article sheds then some light on the potential viability of this type of organizations. We conclude that the JASS might be an important and effective alternative to organize the provision of water services in rural and isolated areas. However, the consolidation of these institutions requires adequate supervision to ensure that water systems are correctly designed and managed and that internal governance problems do not compromise their sustainability.
- community planning
- rural areas