About the Water Justice project
Water Justice project, run jointly by TNI and Corporate European Observatory is engaged in the work of building viable alternatives to water privatisation, focused on how to reform public water systems in order to make the human right to water a reality for everyone.
The 1990s witnessed an ideologically-driven global push for water privatisation that failed to deliver promised investments and pushed prices beyond the reach of the poorest. This led to backlash and resistance in many countries. Given that 90% of water and sanitation provision remains in public hands, Water Justice believes it is critical to refocus the global water debate on the key question: how to improve and expand public water delivery around the world?
Water Justice Project
- Acts as the facilitating hub of the Reclaim Public Water network, a growing international network of civil society activists, trade unionists, academics as well as public water operators and engineers working together to promote people-centred democratic public water services.
- Advocates Public-public partnerships (PUPs), the linking up of public water operators on a non-profit basis to strengthen management capacity and improve water services.
- Supports concrete emerging alternatives on the local/national and regional levels such as campaigns for Remunicipalisation (see also www.remunicipalisation.org) and national platforms of Public- public (Community) Partnerships
- Facilitates global, regional and local collective learning processes on people-centred water provision and democratisation of public water systems, including via the online resource centre www.waterjustice.org.
- Published the book “Reclaiming Public Water” (first in English, now translated into 13 languages), a catalogue of diverse cases of successful public water systems from around the world.
- Critically engaged in the UN’s Global Water Operators Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) as a civil society representative.
- Campaigns to end the EU commission's bias towards funding private sector solutions and to start supporting effective public water service provision
- Plays a critical role in linking up campaigners from civil society movements across the world with resource people from the network.
TNI’s Water Justice Project started in 2004, and has since built up a international network with over 200 members in 40 countries. In addition the project works with a number of regional networks in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
Case Study Democratisation through Public Community partnerships: example from partner in Tamil Nadu, India
The Tamil Nadu state water company (TWAD) committed itself to improve the situation in about 500 villages in rural areas that had been neglected for decades. This commitment resulted in new forms of partnerships between the public water operator and rural communities, in which the communities are engaged in the decision-making about water solutions. Supported by TWAD with funding and expertise, communities were empowered to take responsibility for running water systems, an approach that proved to bring rapid and lasting improvements. The reforms undergone in Tamil Nadu show clearly what can be achieved when a public water operator develops a more democratic approach in its relations with the unserved communities in rural areas. Recovering and protecting water sources, prioritising indigenous people and other marginalised water users and introducing easy-to-maintain, low-cost technology are key features of the success. The RPW network partner, the Change Management Group (made up of engineers from the state water company TWDA) established the Center of Excellence for Change (CEC) in 2010 in order to effectively promote Public Community Partnerships in water management, but also to respond to the food security and climate challenges in Tamil Nadu state. In the early 2010, CEC managed to establish a national platform (Water Organizations Partnerships India) to scale up their initiative to the national level.
Voices from partners
”The Reclaiming Public Water Network has made a huge difference. It is a loose but also very focused network that lets people have their own identity and still work together towards one goal”. Dr. Suresh (Centre for Law, Policy and Human Rights, Chennai)
“My assessment on RPW network is that it has made a huge difference by targeting one basic issue: enlarging publicness.” David Boys, Public Services International (PSI)
“The RPW network has been very successful at pushing the positive agenda into the mainstream water policy discourse. The Reclaiming Public Water book has become a bible for water justice activists”. Mary Ann Manahan (Focus on the Global South)
“The RPW network has strengthened the sense of having an alliance among the networks; it has allowed us to work beyond anti-privatisation issues.” Guillermo Amorebieta (SOBSA union leader, Argentina)