This paper presents an institutional analysis of the underlying factors affecting the performance of community-based drinking water organizations in rural Costa Rica. More than 1,000 of these organizations provide water to 60% of the rural population and show great disparity in their performances. Using a qualitative approach and matching techniques to ensure comparability, the paper analyzes four representative communities. The results highlight the relevance of a demand-driven approach with downward accountability, working rules for tariff collection and infrastructure maintenance, and attributes of water committee members as the chief conditions that promote better financial health, infrastructure condition and user satisfaction.
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