Evaluating Colonias and the Use of Promatoras on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project completed:
June 2002

Several hundred thousand persons live in unincorporated areas known as Colonias along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Often these areas do not have adequate sanitation, including clean water supplies. The people living there typically have inadequate insurance coverage (public or private) and poor access to a regular source of healthcare and essential preventive health services. During the last decade, the Texas A&M Colonias project has established 12 Community Resource Centers (CRCs) in three regions along the Texas-Mexico border with the goal of strengthening the communities by activating and integrating community residents and organizations into the planning and execution of community development programs. In 1997, the Texas A&M Colonias project adopted a program of health promotion using promatoras ---paraprofessional outreach workers--- in the Colonias. Other states, including New Mexico and Arizona, also have experience using promatoras to reach out to community residents and involve them in health promotion and the development of healthy communities. The project has three specific objectives:

  • To describe the creation and development of the CRCs as a form of community social infrastructure;
  • To examine the ways in which CRCs and promatoras function, such as socializing Colonias residents concerning health-related issues and facilitating healthy communities (e.g., health fairs, environmental clean-ups); and
  • To compare the structure and performance of promatoras in different settings in Texas and New Mexico, focusing on their effectiveness in promoting health and involving community residents in the developing and maintaining healthy communities.