El Salvador's water utility, ANDA, has been beset by problems, and the highest profile problem is the corruption revealed in the Carols Perla case. In August 1994, president Calderon Sol appointed Perla, a Salvadoran businessman, as the first civilian president of ANDA. The Coordinating Commission for Water Resources Reform (Comisión Coordinadora para la Reforma Sectorial de los Recursos Hídricos, COSERHI) was created, with Perla as chairman, to reform the water sector. At least through the late 1990's, Perla was looked at approvingly by outside agencies, as in this Kennedy School of Government case study from 1999.
But by 2003-04, that had all changed. Perla stood accused of embezzling millions from ANDA, of engaging in bid-rigging and similar practices, and enriching himself at the expense of a water system which desperately needed investment. An article in the Texas Observer stated:
Let’s take, for example, Señor Carlos Perla, ex-administrator of ANDA, the public water utility for San Salvador. In 1998 Perla was favorably reviewed by water reform experts at Harvard University: "Perla had taken significant steps to improve El Salvador’s water system by developing legislation to establish an independent regulatory body and by improving the workings of ANDA," they said. At the same time, however, Señor Perla signed a contract with a Spanish company arranging for generous kickbacks to himself.
Presumably he did this while the Harvardians were not looking because if they had been they would have noticed that, while busily designing regulatory legislation, Señor Perla had built himself an extremely big new house. He is currently charged with illicit enrichment.
With corruption charges being brought against him in El Salvador's Court of Accounts, Perla fled the country. He was finally found in France, claiming that he was innocent but that he had fled because he could not get a fair trial in El Salvador. After a prolonged battle against extradition, French authorities finally turned Perla over to El Salvador and he was returned to the country last November and now awaits trial.
Any solution to the water woes in El Salvador will need to provide mechanisms to reduce the possibility of corruption undercutting the best-laid plans.
You can also watch this satirical video about the Perla scandal: