Daily News header

Water Rights Group Call for End of Water Privatization

By  

On the heels of the World Bank's 2014 spring meetings, an international coalition of water rights groups from India and the United States issued a stern call for the institution to end its destructive promotion of water privatization under the guise of development. After a week of meetings, including high level events on water, no action has been taken to address the coalition's concerns.

The World Bank, via the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has been increasing its support of private water projects in the Global South. And while many of these projects are struggling, have failed or are facing cancellation, the World Bank continues to herald them as successes. Not only do many of these projects threaten water access and exacerbate poverty, the World Bank's involvement as an investor in the projects and advisor to many of the governments commissioning them presents an irreconcilable conflict of interest. This is especially true in cases where the IFC holds an equity stake, as it does in India.

"The IFC's ideological promotion of private water is doing more harm than good in many places around the globe." said Shayda Naficy, a water expert at Corporate Accountability International. "The World Bank must put decisions and funding for water in the hands of governments and the people they are accountable to, and stop directly supporting corporations like Veolia that are designed only to produce profits for their shareholders."

In Nagpur, India, the IFC holds a 13.9 percent stake in the Veolia subsidiary whose joint venture, Orange City Water, won the water supply contract. Already, the project has been marked by inequitable water distribution, service shutdowns, and allegations of corruption and illegal activity that have resulted in ongoing protests, official investigations and legal action. Most surprisingly, the World Bank has declared the project a success and a model to be emulated elsewhere.

In light of the massive disparity between the IFC's propaganda about the Nagpur project and its failure on the ground, French transnational Veolia was "awarded" the Pinocchio Award by three French NGOs for prioritizing profits over access and violating the human right to water.

"It is highly objectionable that the World Bank continues to call the Nagpur project a model of success,"says Jammu Anand of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation Employees Union - a group that has been fighting the IFC-backed water privatization in Nagpur. "The truth is it's a failure on all fronts. In the last three years, the cost of operation and maintenance of the system has increased drastically and the price of water has increased many fold. Citizens are being looted by this project's high tariffs and workers are being exploited by low wages."

The IFC is also supporting other water privatization projects across the country. In Khandwa, the IFC gave a loan to Vishwa Infra for a water supply project. Madhya Pradesh-based Manthan Adhyayan Kendra's assessment of the project found that it resulted in rising water tariffs, prohibition of local water sources and private control of the water supply. In response, a local campaign organized to successfully compel the state government to investigate. Based on findings of irregular behavior, the committee determined that the project should be cancelled. In spite of this damning recommendation, the Bank continues to promote the project as success.

"Across the country, local resistance groups have emerged to keep water in the public domain," said Afsar Jafri of Focus on the Global South to Citizen News Service (CNS), "We will continue to expose and defeat the World Bank-corporate-politician-criminal nexus that is attempting to privatise our water through corrupt and non-transparent means."

At the October Annual Meetings, Corporate Accountability International released an open letter to the World Bank from over 70 influential public health and water experts, advocates, economists and others from across the globe, including the National Alliance of People's Movements, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, and Focus on the Global South, calling for an end of all support for private water, beginning with IFC divestment from all equity positions in water corporations.

One year later, as government delegates and Bank decision-makers head home from another round of meetings, no action has been taken to remedy this harmful practice. Yet, over the past year, momentum has been building to challenge the IFC's often covert role in promoting water privatization around the world, especially in places like India where many projects are in the works. As Wilfred D'Costa, Indian Social Action Forum, says "We will continue our struggle against privatization with a renewed demand for public water systems that serve people, not profits."

Bobby Ramakant is a CNS Policy Adviser who writes extensively on health and development. Contact Bobby through NewsBlaze. Read more stories by Bobby Ramakant.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

* The views of Opinion writers do not necessarily reflect the views of NewsBlaze

Related Australia News

The deadline for the realization of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by countries of the world is drawing to a close in 2015. The progress on MDGs might have been with mixed results, but lot of lessons need to be learnt while we frame n
In the year 2000, countries of the world had agreed to meet the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Numerous consultative processes have been taking place around the world on what should be the development goals post-2015.
The first estimates of the global burden of TB in children given by the WHO in 2012, suggested that there might be 530,000 children suffering from it. Subsequently there has been an uptake in the research in this field.
We know that nearly one third of the 35 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) have tuberculosis (TB), and 13% of 8.6 million new TB cases every year are HIV positive. Also 1 in 5 HIV associated deaths are due to TB.
Without innovation, at the current pace of HIV responses, we are likely to fail meeting the targets. We need to accelerate the search for better technologies
The empowering story of Esther from Indonesia, who has been a prisoner, injecting drug user, sex worker, and a person living with HIV, as told to Citizen News Service

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site