The largest Public-Private Partnership in water sector in Germany ended in 2013 after the longstanding social mobilisation. Remunicipalisation cost a high price for the city of Berlin though. Berliners have striven for new challenges.
Nearly 7,000 people from more than 30 countries, and from almost every Brazilian state, gathered at the Alternative World Water Forum (FAMA) from 17 to 22 March 2018. The purpose of this mobilisation was to challenge the legitimacy of the World Water Forum, which is organised every three years by the private think-tank World Water Council together with its corporate partners.
While water privatisation continues to be imposed throughout the world, particularly in the Global South, more and more communities are demanding public management of water and wastewater services and forcing out private actors. On World Water Day we bring you 10 inspiring stories of communities and cities working to reclaim control over this essential resource.
On 9 October 2017, the Turin City Council turned back privatisation and took another step towards the remunicipalisation of its metropolitan water system. And so the city entered the next phase of its long march towards water sovereignty, begun in the aftermath of the Second World War on the ruins of a town half-destroyed by allied bombing and by Nazi/Fascist retaliations against the democratic popular resistance.
Already subjected to the consequences of the European and Greek debt crisis and the resulting austerity measures, privatisation will continue to hit Thessaloniki hard. In a referendum the people voted overwhelmingly against water privatisation. While their struggle continues, they look upon the crisis as an opportunity to intensify the search for democratic alternatives.
A return to public forms of administration in water supplies is a phenomenon that has been spreading globally. Over the past 15 years almost 235 cities around the world, among them Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur have either terminated or have desisted from renewing the contracts with private concessionary companies. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, for example, water delivery is, by a tradition, almost 100 percent public.
The question of how to finance water and sanitation is crucial. Leading international institutions emphasise the role of private finance despite major concerns. The idea that private finance can bring the needed investment is remarkably persistent in global policy circles and leads to a dangerous lack of attention to the far more realistic option of mobilising public finance for infrastructure to provide essential services for all.
The central government of Indonesia has repeatedly announced its intention to universalise access to clean water by 2019. To achieve this, an estimated 27 million new connections are needed, with a major investment gap of IDR 274.8 trillion (US$20.8 billion).
TNI and other civil society organisations, in an open letter, have denounced the European Comission's admission that it imposes water privatization conditionalities as part of its 'rescue' package to crisis countries.
The Greek government and its creditors seem bent on imposing policy whose economic merits and democratic legitimacy seem rather dubious. A French company is especially active among the candidates for privatizing water in Athens and Thessaloniki: Suez Environnement.
Despite large aid support, Ghana's privatised water utility AVRL consistently failed to meet its contractual commitments. Water is now back in state hands, but it will need increased investment and a vigilant civil society to deliver the services Ghanaians need.
Satoko Kishimoto, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Philip Jakpor, Susanna Bohme, Emanuele Lobina
25 November 2016
For nearly two years, people in Lagos, Nigeria have been mobilizing to demand a public water system that delivers clean, safe water to all residents. Today, we’re thrilled to announce the next step in the campaign: the release of “Lagos Water Crisis: Alternative roadmap for water sector.” This book lays out a vision for how the city can solve its water crisis, with specific recommendations and action steps for the Lagos government.
Jakarta is currently striving to join many cities around the world and remunicipalising its water. A series of fact-sheets that outline how and why water privatisation failed and the potential for a renewed effective public service.
Projects protecting Jakarta against floods are likely to damage the environment and could threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. The Dutch government, supporting these projects, should question how it balances its interest in supporting Dutch companies with its stated policies of sustainable and inclusive development.
Public-private partnerships were heralded as a solution to the millions who still lack access to water, but after two decades the evidence is in: they have failed. An unprecedented surge of cities is now bringing water back under public control.
International Water Justice community sent the petition to the Supreme Court of Indonesia. Residents of Jakarta filed a citizen lawsuit against water privatisation in Jakarta at Central Jakarta District Court in November 2012. They argued in the lawsuit that water privatisation failed to fulfil the residents’ access to safe water, caused a series of corruptions and financial harm to the public budgets. In March 2015, the court ruled in favour of the residents, annulling the contract agreement with two private water operators. It was a significant victory of people. The decision, however, was challenged by these private companies and other defendants. Unfortunately the residents lost in the High Court in February 2016. Jakarta people decided to challenge the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court.