Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Efficient, Effective Alternative to Water Privatization

Throughout history water has been one of the most universally recognized commons that nearly everyone would agree is a resource to be shared. But recent decades witnessed the rise of water privatization, in which profit-seeking companies take over public water and sewage utilities with often disastrous effects. Despite their poor track record, international water companies are still tapped to run municipal water systems in the belief that they can increase efficiency and quality while expanding service to those without safe access to water

A new report from from the Washington, D.C.-based organizationFood & Water Watch points to Public-Public partnerships as a better alternative that brings the strengths of efficiency and partnership without selling off our stake in a precious shares resource. To see the full report, click here — Jay Walljasper.

Clean drinking water and wastewater treatment are basic services that societies and governments provide. Water is a necessity for life, and safe water and sanitation are crucial for public health.In July 2010, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation to be a human right. But recognizing the human right to water does not explain how to deliver this right to households. Even with this historic commitment to enhance water delivery and safety, an estimated 884 million people worldwide lack access to safe water, and 2.6 billion lack access to improved sanitation.Meeting the needs of these people will require significant investments in infrastructure and expertise. Over the past 20 years, major multinational efforts to provide people water have relied on private sector strategies in both developed and developing countries. These approaches have included numerous public-private partnerships (PPPs) between public water utilities and private water companies.

Proponents of water privatization promised increased investment and efficiency leading to improved and expanded service, but privatization has failed to meet these expectations. Instead, it often has led to deteriorating infrastructure, service disruptions and higher prices for poorer service. A different model, called public-public partnerships (PUPs), can be a more effective method for providing services. In contrast to privatization, which puts public needs into the hands of profit-seeking corporations, PUPs bring together public officials, workers and communities to provide better, more efficient service for all users. More