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International Water Services Project Guayaquil (“Interagua”) was supported by an $18 million MIGA guarantee in 2001. The company aims to improve services and operating performance of the existing water utility in Guayaquil, Ecuador, as a private sector operator. It is regulated by a government agency under the terms of a concession contract that sets out targets for quality of water provision, connections of potable water and sewage, and service coverage. A complaint was filed in January 2008 by residents of the city of Guayaquil, the Asociacion Movimiento Mi Cometa and the Observatorio Ciudadano de Servicios Publicos. The signatories raised concerns about cuts of residential water to the poor, lack of service hook-ups in poorer neighborhoods, lack of sewage or wastewater treatment, and compliance with the concession contract between the company and the Government of Ecuador.
Following a CAO Ombudsman assessment, the parties agreed to work together to try and resolve the issues. In October 2008, an Ombudsman team met with the parties in Guayaquil following passage of a Constitutional Referendum that prohibits all forms of water privatization in Ecuador. Although the referendum satisfied some of the complainants' concerns, they requested continued engagement with CAO to resolve 3,533 complaints that water users have submitted to the NGO, and other outstanding issues. After the October 2008 meeting, the parties have reached several agreements on processes for resolving the issues.
Progress toward implementation of those agreements is reported and discussed by stakeholders at a formal Dialog Table that meets regularly and includes representatives of water users, the company, and the NGO who filed the complaint on behalf of the water users. The last Dialog Table meeting was held in February 2010 to review progress and lessons learned from a Conflict Resolution Table established by the stakeholders. The parties are jointly piloting the Conflict Resolution Table, which ultimately would serve as a permanent mechanism for individuals to resolve issues with their water service.
CAO case story page: http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/cases/case_detail.aspx?id=84