Citizenship, Collaborative Technologies and Regulation

Access to basic services (water, sanitation, energy and communication) at affordable cost is essential to human development and health. Due to the nature of networked utilities - the fact that they are monopolies or oligopolies - the existence of an effective regulatory regime is crucial to ensuring that consumers have access to services and receive good quality service. The regulatory regimes in most developing countries have emerged and evolved with little or no input from their main beneficiaries.

The recent rise of a wide range of collaborative information technologies (twitter, social networking sites, wikis, phone text messaging, etc.) could potentially offer consumers an opportunity to monitor such things as utilities' compliance with approved standards, efficiency, quality of service, use of public funds, cost structure, and other issues. This could rapidly lead to more efficient provision of services with increased access at lower prices.

This grant will support two pilot projects aimed at engaging civil society participation in regulating water and sanitation utilities using web 2.0 applications and/or cellphones (mobile phones). The two projects are situated in El Salvador and Peru, respectively. The focus will be on poor consumers in urban peripheries, since this group is growing fast and faces the most serious problems, especially with regard to sanitation. The two countries were chosen because they have the greatest potential for improvement, and because consumer organizations in both have established good working relationships with regulatory agencies.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

End Date

Monday, July 1, 2013


24 months

IDRC Officer

Petrazzini, Ben

Total funding

CA$ 385,537


Peru, South America, El Salvador, North and Central America


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Hubert Linders


Consumers International

Institution Country


Institution Website