On the border of the United States and Mexico, few policy issues face such acute challenges as those related to water. Border cities face an uncertain future water supply, low-income neighborhoods
often lack water and sewer services, and water contamination poses a risk to the health of residents and the environment. Responses by government agencies on both sides of the border have been
insufficient. Increasing economic development has mainly resulted in increasing problems. These limitations of government and market forces suggest that nonprofit organizations—the so-called "third
sector"—might play an important role in meeting the growing challenges in the region.
A very significant contribution to the literature on nonprofits, civil society strengthening, and decentralizing trends along Mexico's northern border. This book adds considerably to the depth of our understanding of the emergence of civil society through the mechanism of nongovernmental organization along the border, as well as to a clearer understanding of its current limitations in the broad and diverse policy area of water provision and management.
--Stephen Mumme, Colorado State University
Finding that these organizations do have a positive impact, Daniel Sabet seeks to understand how
autonomous nonprofit organizations have emerged and developed along the border. He employs data from more than 250 interviews with members of civil society organizations and public officials, surveys
of neighborhood association leaders, observations at public meetings, and many secondary sources. His research compares the experiences of third-sector organizations in four prominent Mexican border
cities: Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juárez, and Nuevo Laredo.
Sabet finds that political change is a necessary precondition for the establishment of an independent third sector. The demise
of one-party rule in Mexico has given nonprofit organizations greater opportunities to flourish, he finds, but persistent informal rules still obstruct their emergence and development. Sabet concludes
that the success of the third sector will depend on the organizations' networks. He examines organizational ties to three key groups—U.S. nonprofits, the business community, and government-created
methods for public participation—and evaluates the importance of these connections for the future.