Protests as more water privatised

The World Bank's increasing push to privatise water resources came under the spotlight this week as activists criticised the approach as denying the poorest the right to water.

Over 134 non-governmental organisations from 48 countries urged the World Bank not to strengthen the role of a policy called the "Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility" (PPIAF), as is likely to happen at a WB meeting next week.

In a letter to donors to the PPIAF programme, the organisations argue that water privatisation takes water away from the poorest instead of increasing water access.

"The evidence shows that the private sector has shown a great reluctance to commit finance to connecting the poorest people to clean, affordable water.... Our conclusion is that aid could be better spent and we ask donors to withdraw this funding accordingly," they write.

The Norwegian government is one sponsor that has withdrawn its support for the PPIAF saying the programme no longer increases access to water across the developing world.

Elías Dias Peña of Friends of the Earth Paraguay, one of the groups campaigning against the PPIAF, said: "In Paraguay, despite public protest and a parliamentary vote against it, water privatisation is still pushed by the PPIAF, the International Monetary Fund and powerful private companies. But opposition remains strong.

"A new law on water developed by civil society groups and members of Parliament declares water a property of the state and access to water a fundamental human right. The law is awaiting its final vote in the
Paraguayan chamber of deputies right now."

The World Bank meeting takes place in the Hague, the Netherlands, next Wednesday May 23rd.

Goska Romanowicz



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