About the Water Justice project

TNI's Water Justice project supports public, effective, participatory public water services that are socially just and ecologically sustainable. TNI’s water work forms part of its work on Public Sector Solutions and is embedded in the Reclaiming Public Water (RPW) network made up of public water utilities, trade unions, academics and citizens from 58 countries.

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?

The global push for water privatisation in recent decades has failed to deliver the promised services and pushed prices beyond the reach of the poorest. With 90% of water and sanitation provision still in public hands, TNI’s Water Justice project believes it is critical to refocus the global water debate on how to improve and expand public water delivery around the world.

Read about Activities in 2016 in the projects section of our annual report.

The 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 water utility managers and engineers  working together to promote people-centred democratic public water servicesAdvocates and facilitates public-public partnerships (PUPs), the linking up of public water operators on a non-profit basis to strengthen management capacity and improve water services.
  • Facilitates global, regional and local collective learning processes on people-centred water provision and public water utility reforms, including via the online resource centre www.waterjustice .org and the book “Reclaiming Public Water” (translated into 13 languages),  a catalogue of diverse  cases of successful public water systems from around the world.
  • Campaigns and lobbies donor governments, international financial Institutions (IFIs), and actors like the EU commission to end their bias towards funding private sector solutions and to start supporting effective public water service provision
  • Represents civil society's voice in the UN’s Global Water Operators Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA)

TNI plays a critical role in linking up campaigners from civil society movements across the world with resource people from the network.

Read up on our activities in 2012.

Case study: India – collective learning makes political impact

Inspired by a regional seminar in Bolivia, South Asian water campaigners met in Chennai, India in September 2008 to discuss public water management. The results of the seminar showed the power of bringing together critical civil society activists focused on improving water provision:

  • Participants visited villages that are part of the experiment with democratisation of water management in Tamil Nadu which has led to new partnerships between the water engineers and rural communities in need of improved water service.
  • Discussed their findings using the “koodam” approach, a traditional Tamil forum or collective meeting place in which all have equal voices, regardless of social and economic differences in status, class, gender, and age.
  • Prompted a series of in-depth articles on water democratisation and PuPs published by The Hindu, one of India's most widely circulated national dailies.
  • Caught the attention of high-level officials responsible for the drinking water and sanitation policies of Indian government which led to the establishment of a national PuP platform in India.

”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)

TNI’s Water Justice Project started in 2004, and has since built up a international network with over 300 members in 58 countries. In addition the project works with a number of regional networks in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

“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)