Water privatisation: a worldwide failure?
Lagos is among the many cities in the global south where investment in water supplies is desperately needed, yet there is no consensus on whether the answer lies with private management, the public sector, or a combination of both.
A report by the Transnational Institute (TNI), Public Services International Research Unit and the Multinational Observatory suggests that 180 cities and communities in 35 countries, including Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Paris, Accra, Berlin, La Paz, Maputo and Kuala Lumpur, have all “re-municipalised” their water systems in the past decade. More than 100 of the “returnees” were in the US and France, 14 in Africa and 12 in Latin America. Those in developing countries tended to be bigger cities than those in richer countries.
“Direct experience with common problems of private water management – from lack of infrastructure investments, to tariff hikes to environmental hazards – has persuaded communities and policymakers that the public sector is better placed to provide quality services to citizens and promote the human right to water,” said the report’s author, Satoko Kishimoto, water coordinator with the Transnational Institute in Brussels.
“A growing number of water utilities that have gone through a re-municipalisation process are increasingly ready, along with other institutions, to share experiences and provide practical support. Cooperation between public services is the most efficient way to improve water services and promote the human right to water,” she said.