Privatisation and the Right to Water

"The day is not far off, when water will cost more than oil",
thundered a Syrian delegate at the first UN World Conference on Water and Sanitation in 1977.
A quarter century later, it appears that we are very close to such a social reality.

It is now widely acknowledged that we are heading towards a global water Crisis. However, the methods by which this impending crisis is sought to be resolved are problematic. It is projected that the international community through a series of global dialogues,has arrived at a consensus , that only private firms can provide the enormous capital needed to fix the worlds water problems and usher in an era of plenty by the years 2025.

At the heart these proposals, arguing for the privatisation of the earths water resources is the principlethat  "Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good ".A principle that is central to the neo-liberal logic of  the present phase corporate led, profit driver globalisation. This privatization agenda has found its way into several national water policies of governments across the globe and has become a part of the United Nations development agendaas well.

Today, water is big business, aided and promoted by global financial institutions like the World Bank, IMF and national governments. Despite the fact that they have been abysmal failures and led to large scale human tragedy.

Resistance and popular opposition to the ‘corporate led privatisation project’ emerging from all over the world is now backed by several international and regional campaigns and coalitions that are challenging this privatisation process as well as creating people centered democratic alternativesthat are gender sensitive.

The human right to water is emerging as an important rallying point for many of these struggles and campaigns seeking water justice and will perhaps aid the global movement in establishing the fundamental human right to water.


This E-Digest was prepared by Raajen Singh, 2004