Toward The End of Water Privatization

In Lagos, Nigeria, a water privatization project did not turn out as expected, according to a recent article by Michelle Chen in The Nation. It was neither workable nor profitable. A key reason lay in the lack of infrastructure. To bring water to people a company needs pipes, a task that in a country like Nigeria, or in any other developing nation, is not particularly easy. The project was mismanaged, was not delivering water to most people. In some areas water was stolen, and those who paid were often those who could least afford it. Another reason the Lagos project failed was that the World Bank refused to fund it, not only a blow to the private corporation running it, but to water privatization projects in general. In Manila, Philippines, and Nagpur, India, similar projects also failed to bring water to those who needed it most. People there had to endure rate hikes and infrastructure failures. All this gives hope that the privatization of water delivery systems is no longer a sought after idea. Corporate Accountability International (CAI) which conducted a study thinks these examples speak for an existing paradox where the richer the country is the more the water tends to be cheaper and clean. Jesse Bragg of CAI expresses the thoughts of many when he says that international development should promote infrastructure projects, “Where the water system is accountable to the people, and the end goal of water delivery is access, not profit.” He also takes issue with looking for profits from the poorest communities of the world.

2 thoughts on “Toward The End of Water Privatization”

  1. This is one of the most pressing problems in the whole world, because no one can live without water! But if the infrastructure is provided by multinational corporations, then the largest richest corporations will “own” all the life source of the whole of humanity! That is clearly a poor solution! The United Nations and the World Bank need to prevent this from happening!!

    1. I agree with Peggy Hackney, that this is an urgent problem that needs to be solved at a level other than a corporate run one, since corporations, especially in Africa, are only concerned with profit. Alas, these corporations regularly also break international law in the the UN International Declaration of Human Rights, by destroying infrastructure and keeping the populations of poorer nations in poverty. I am not sure that the current UN or World Bank can build the needed infrastructure to give people in need, access to clean water, but perhaps an outside international group akin to Habitat for Humanity could do so with serious global concern and funding.

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