A comparative analysis of legal and institutional frameworks for sanitation in Colombia and Brazil – Presentation by Emily Hosek


While spending a summer in Rio, Emily found the condition of water sanitation even in the city to be quite limiting. In her presentation she mentioned how limited the research resources were. The transparency in both countries was weak and thus finding materials through research was near impossible. Much of the information that she reported on was based on her experience while living in Rio as well as her travel throughout Brazil and Colombia.

Emily started the presentation by giving basic information to both countries. The population, current government, and population information. There are actually a lot of similarities between the two countries. Both countries are fast growing in both population and net income. Both countries are in Latin America with similar environments. The population is near mirror in both countries with near equal percent of population in rural and urban area.


In Colombia, there are currently 23% of the population without access to sanitation (37% in rural areas have no sanitation). The New Constitution in 1991, set up sanitation to be a public service for which the state is responsible. Law 142 of 1994 also define the legal nature of the institutions and entities that would allow to provide public service. The law consolidated service providers, strengthen decentralized, and strengthen private participation. Corporate Modernization program in 1998 framed explicit public policy for private sector participation in sanitation and set the foundation for public private partnership. In 2008, the department of water and management was created to strengthen the weakness in decentralized water sanitation.

In terms of finance, rules and regulations that were framed help set in place excellent financial efficiency in Colombia with both public or private, as well as public and private, the competition but set tariff help strengthen water sanitation in the country.


In Brazil, there are currently 21% of the population without access to sanitation (over 60% in rural areas). Also given how large Brazil is, there is uneven distribution between the south and the north. Cities near the ocean in the south has better sanitation than the north. Universal Access was the goal in Brazil, however, there is little regulatory force behind the concept. Municipals are allowed to setup their own policies which gives a diverse legal framework in the country. Article 19 of the Brazil National Sanitation Law said that each municipal must have a complete plan and be submitted. The municipals must also submit goals. In general, Emily suggest that although the idea is great, the actually implementation is terrible.

In terms of finance, municipals are also in charge and no national government policies other than the basic framework is set. There is little strong financing foundation and in practice there is a lack of check and balance where the municipal government has all authorities.


Although both Brazil and Colombia have a decentralized water sanitation, Colombia shows more promising sanitation legal framework when compared to Brazil. On paper, both countries are near similar other than that in Colombia although decentralized, state is responsible and municipal in Brazil. In the end, Emily said that, “I think that the Colombia model is better, it is more diverse and provide for a market competition while the Brazil model has great framework but need better enforcement methods.”

Emily Hosek is currently a student in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. For more information check out her LinkedIn Page.



About t5huang

Masters in Environmental Science at UPenn Candidate
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