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Archive | Water

Corporate greed over public welfare

The battle to keep water non-privatized is worldwide. And it’s always large banks, especially The World Bank and their allies, who want to force countries to privatize.

From the Philippines Sun Star

I believe, and so as the majority of water consumers all over the world, that w ater is a human right. This is the reason why water distribution companies is classified as public utilities because government agencies monitor their operations and regulate their rates and charges to consumers.

But the privatization program of international financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is pushing the services sector to corporate hands that are profit driven. So the civil society in Asia-Pacific region are clamoring against privatization of water services and condemns the detrimental impact ADB’s involvements in the water sector.

Bartering Away Ghana’s Water

Yet another example of the worldwide stuggle to keep water public.

The award of the contract to Vtiens International, a Dutch company and Rand Water from South Africa to manage Ghana Water Company was a trade-off between the government and IMF/ World Bank, whose stench had long been in the air.

Available records show that these two institutions have been the significant drivers of water privatization and in the last decade, they have made remarkable investments in these sectors across the developing world with the aim of preparing them for privatization.

In fiscal year 2005, the World Bank spent over $7 billion in these sectors, including about $3 billion in the water and sanitation sector. Does the $1.2 million World Bank grant to Ghana for the water sector rehabilitation ring any bells?

The truth underlying water privatization is that corporations are pressuring their governments to help them penetrate lucrative overseas markets.

The institutions require governments to prepare <Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers>  PRSPs as a condition for receiving financial assistance, which must necessarily include privatization of essential services, like water. That perhaps, explains why we have had to barter away the water to multinational corporations.

Why water privatization is not your friend

This is one of the clearest explanations I’ve seen as to why water privatization is a terrible idea.

Champions of privatization want to do is to take all the assets of the government and give them to private corporations to run at a profit. For example, if my local municipality has spent 100 years putting together a water supply for my community, something we paid for and we own, these fellas want to give it to some guy so he can make a profit selling me water. Sometimes the new owner is asked to make a modest investment in his new business, but seldom does that entry fee represent anything like the value of the assets that have been privatized into his care.

Formerly, water – clean, healthy water was practically a right. It didn’t matter who I was. Turn on the tap and the water flows. If it didn’t, there was hell to pay and we could vote the water commissioners, councilmen, or whoever was responsible, out of office and even demand that they be heavily fined or jailed for betraying a public trust.

Once privatized, what was our water isn’t a right anymore. It is a product. If it becomes more profitable to do something else with it than sell it to us at whatever rate the market will bear, then we’d better get used to not having any water.

But above and beyond this kind of shell game, one of the worst things these champions of privatization do is to set up the government to fail, purposefully to demonstrate to us all that government can’t do the job properly.

“Thirst”: Documentary on global resistance to water privatization

From PBS

The world is poised on the brink of epochal changes in how water is stored, used, and valued. Will these changes provide clean water to the billions of people who need it? Or save the child who dies every eight seconds from contaminated water? Examining water conflicts on three continents, "Thirst" shows that popular opposition to the privatization of water sparks remarkable coalitions that cross partisan lines. When it comes to water, many people demand local control and fear the arrival of multinational corporations with large lobbying budgets and little local loyalty.

The battle to stop water privatization is worldwide, and is happening in US cities as well as in the third-world.

The website for the movie, ThirstTheMovie.org, sums it up in one sentence.

Is water a human right or a commodity to be bought and sold in a global marketplace?

Unless you believe multinational corporations will altruistically put the needs of water consumers before their lust for profits (in which case I have a nice bridge for sale) then it behooves us all to keep water in public hands and out of their grasping little hands.

Macedonia: Water Wars?

Was Macedonia’s civil war of 2001 provoked merely by the stated desire of the Albanian insurgents for more civil rights, or for their alleged desire to hack off the western part of that country? Was it merely a matter of ethnic hatreds, or were other strategic interests involved?

A few years ago, Sam Vaknin painted a general picture of the emerging water crisis around the world and how future conflicts might be at least surreptitiously shaped by rich nations’ common need to acquire and control water supply as lakes and rivers dry up or become salinated. In this context, the Macedonian conflict takes on new dimensions.

Here’s a crucial point.

It also seems likely that Macedonia’s "frozen conflict" will have to thaw out someday, with control of the ensuing flow being an item of top importance for the enemy sides. The stakes will be high, not only for Macedonia’s inhabitants but for international investors from high-water usage industries, who will be eager to be on the winning side.

AKA water privatization. Grab the water, then sell it to the highest bidder. I’m guessing international water speculators will not have the needs of Macedonians uppermost in their minds.