Environmental health training of promotoras in colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. Academic Article uri icon


  • Poverty, overpopulation, and a lack of environmental controls have combined with cultural and linguistic division to produce a looming public health threat in unincorporated communities on the US-Mexico border. These rapidly multiplying colonias, from a Spanish term for neighborhoods, are settlements of varying size located along the border. Along the American side of the Texas-Mexico border alone, there are approximately 1800 colonias--the largest number of any border state--most of which lack basic water and sewer systems, paved roads, and safe and sanitary housing. Promotoras, from a Spanish term for lay community educators, are community leaders who live in the colonias and build important bridges between residents and the federal and state bureaucracies. These women have been trained to introduce their neighbors to state "systems" of government, education, and medical and social services that otherwise may lie out of reach. Promotoras are able to "translate" this training into culturally meaningful instruction that empowers community self-development. When neighbors teach neighbors, the message is received with greater trust and readiness to act.

published proceedings

  • Am J Public Health

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Ramos, I. N., May, M., & Ramos, K. S.

citation count

  • 71

complete list of authors

  • Ramos, IN||May, M||Ramos, KS

publication date

  • April 2001