Water in private hands
Source: TNI
This site presents a compilation of examples of how communities in different parts of the world are moving from failed privatised water management to successful publicly managed water and wastewater services. July 2008. [see more]
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The privatization of basic public services has become a dominant issue in policy discourse in industrialized as well as developing countries. Over the last few years, policies affecting water, electricity, health and education in some countries have generated as much political controversy and social mobilization as taxation, land reform or even trade.

What makes basic services so special? Market-oriented service provision policies have been subject to an unprecedented level of public scrutiny. From the perspective of diverse civil society movements, the issue of basic services cuts across a wide range of issue areas, such as: accountability and transparency of international governance institutions, human rights, poverty reduction, democratization, national sovereignty, gender equality, debt reduction and cancellation, and environmental protection.

Policy-oriented NGOs that advocate for a particular cause are now putting public services on their agenda. For example, a number of citizen organizations with experience in monitoring the Bretton Woods institutions have taken a sudden interest in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), a WTO agreement that could “lock in” privatization (making it practically irreversible) and undermine the ability of governments to regulate or even finance public services.

In the current negotiations, which were launched in November 2001, governments are pressuring each other to open up services to private sector and non-profit (NGO) providers, even in socially sensitive areas such as water, health and education. For the most part, it is the powerful Northern governments and their corporate constituencies that are driving the process of liberalization of services. The GATS could undermine progress toward social and environmental goals because it limits the ability of governments to regulate or provide services. For instance, it could jeopardize access to water and other services by poor and vulnerable groups.

On one hand, the Bretton Woods institutions and their major shareholder governments tout the benefits of privatizing the public sector. A discussion draft of the World Bank’s 2004 World Development Report, whose theme is services for the poor, states that neither growth nor public spending increases will improve services enough to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It then argues that achieving the MDGs requires a rejection of the current government provision model of service delivery and the adoption of reforms that largely bypass the state, including private concessions and sub-contracting.

On the other hand, civil society organizations across the global North and South are increasingly resisting the adoption of policies that put basic services into private hands. Some privatization measures have led to spontaneous citizen mobilizations, threatening the survival of national governments.

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Up-to-date current affairs information.
Mon Sep 26 2005
Blocking the wave of privatisation of water
Fuente: IPS

In-depth reports
Detailed reports on key issues
GATS - trade in services
A 'development-friendly' agreement, but not necessarily for the poorest countries.
World Bank
The World Bank's main self-proclaimed objective is to eradicate poverty. Yet, evidence suggests that its programmes often harm the poor and the environment.
Corporate accountability
How big business handle big issues like human rights and sustainable development.
Education on the market
The pros and cons of the slow but relentless process of integration of education into the market.
The water crisis
If access to water is a basic human right, should its provision be left in the hands of private corporations?
Health and health services, goods for sale
Is privatization the answer to health care problems that affect the poor?
World Trade Organization - WTO
Trade at the service of people, or people subjected to trade? The WTO makes the difference.
Millennium Development Goals - MDGs
A comprehensive list of resources from the United Nations and civil society organizations.

From Social Watch

Social Watch Annual Report 2003

Privatising human rights - the impact of globalisation on access to adequate housing, water and sanitation

Public services at risk: GATS and the privatization agenda

From social contract to private contracts: the privatization of health, education and basic infrastructure (Social Watch)

Civil society

Privatisation of water not "pro-poor" (Bretton Woods Project)

Water privatization overview (Public Citizen)


New web site exposes rise in water de-privatization (TNI)

Worldwide water wars highlighted in Porto Alegre (CorpWatch)

Keep water and water services out of the WTO (Water Observatory)

Water activists turn on the taps and turn up the pressure (Pambazuka)

The World Bank

Water privatization in a climate of global protest (Public Citizen)

World Bank in stormy waters

Water corporations

Who controls Ecuador's water? (Americas Program - Center for International Policy (CIP))

A shared vision: the EU water policy and European water corporate interests (Transnational Institute)

NGOs demand water giant Suez to end legal proceedings at World Bank (Food & Water Watch)

New roles, new rules: does private sector participation benefit the poor? (id21)

Blue gold: the battle against corporate theft of the world's water (Polaris Institute)

Alternatives to privatization

Democratisation of water management: the Tamil Nadu experience (TNI)

Brazilian public water successes (Transnational Institute)

Advancing Alternatives to Water Privatisation (Transnational Institute)

Reclaiming public water!: Participatory alternatives to privatization (Transnational Institute)

People-centred water management is possible! (Transnational Institute)

The Bolivian water scandal

Bolivia - Leasing the rain (Frontline - PBS)

Battle on water in Cochabamba (Nadir)

Corporation sues government over water at secret World Bank tribunal

Interview with Abel Mamani, first Minister of Water for Bolivia (Bolivia Solidarity Network)

Bechtel vs. Bolivia: the people win! (The Democracy Center)

International financial institutions press for water privatization in Bolivia (Choike)

The water conflict in Bolivia: a historical review (Stuttgarter Waterforum)

Bolivia: water private company leaves after mass protests (Fundación Solon)

World Bank pushed to open up Bolivia water arbitration (Bretton Woods Project)

Other countries and regions

Privatized water deal collapses in Atlanta, USA (CorpWatch)

Philippines: a failed World Bank-funded privatization project (Ibon Foundation)

Argentina water privatization scheme runs dry (CorpWatch)

Waiting at the tap: deteriorating urban water supply in East Africa (id21)

Water privatization in Sub-Saharan Africa: progress, problems and policy implications (PSIRU)

Handwash or eyewash?: selling soap in the name of public private partnerships (India Resource Center)

Guatemala: water, poverty and CAFTA (Third World Network)

Philippines: consumers form group against water privatization (IBON Features)

Why liquidate our future? (Down to Earth)

Articles and reports

South could become stage for wars over water (IPS - Inter Press Services)

It's time for the UN to make water a human right (AlterNet)

A Fact Sheet on water sector privatization (The Water Observatory)

The water barons (The Center for Public Integrity)

Privatizing water: what the European Commission doesn’t want you to know (Center for Public Integrity)

Dirty aid, dirty water (World Development Movement)

Nature for sale: the impacts of privatizing water and biodiversity (Friends of the Earth International)

Are the debates on water privatization missing the point? (International Institute for Environment and Development)

World Water Forum

Third World Water Forum (Choike)

Busting the Water Cartel (CorpWatch)

Choike is a project of the Third World Institute
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