Opportunities and Challenges for Community Involvement in Public Service Provision in Rural Guatemala

18 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2013

See all articles by Johanna Speer

Johanna Speer

Humboldt University Berlin

William Vásquez

Fairfield University - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 1, 2013

Abstract

The purpose of the research summarized in this paper is to provide policy-relevant knowledge on the governance of rural services in Guatemala and thus to contribute to improving the provision of services that are essential for agricultural and rural development. Almost 10 years ago, the Guatemalan government decided to strengthen decentralization and community participation to improve the quality of public services, as well as access to these services for the poor, especially in rural areas. Based on quantitative and qualitative primary data, we examine how services are actually provided today and how community preferences and participation affect service provision in rural Guatemala. Our main finding is that the provision of formally decentralized services by local governments is incomplete. As a result, many rural communities continue to lack access to services, and some of them engage in supplying these services themselves. However, communities do not consider themselves to be more effective at service provision and would therefore prefer to be served by the government. Moreover, we find that community participation in the planning and evaluation of services has a positive impact on the responsiveness of the local government’s service provision. However, the effectiveness of community participation varies greatly among the examined cases, with several participatory governance bodies not functioning properly due to low education levels, poverty, and weak civil-society organization.

Keywords: Guatemala, Central America, Latin America, North America, public services, community involvement, rural areas, Participation, community-based development

Suggested Citation

Speer, Johanna and Vásquez, William, Opportunities and Challenges for Community Involvement in Public Service Provision in Rural Guatemala (March 1, 2013). IFPRI Discussion Paper 01250, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2235658 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2235658

William Vásquez

Fairfield University - Department of Economics ( email )

Fairfield, CT 06824
United States

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