Article: What does water privatization really mean

Article: What does water privatization really mean

[box] The Water as a product Author:Mariannina Rakka Issue n. 62 or ARDIN Magazine[/box]

March 2001.The World Water Council and the UN organize a Global Forum in which water is first characterized clearly as a product.
The policy to be followed of tackling the global problem of water scarcity is decided ,later on ,at the same conference :
The management of water is now assigned to the free market competition.
Since then the global market scene of “blue gold”, as now called water , is formed by three major multinational companies, French Suez and Vivendi, which now lies under the name Veolia, and Water Thames.
These three companies are among the top 100 companies in the world with the annual income of all three in 2003 to estimated at $ 156.7 billion.
Is also mentioned that they control the water supply in about 230 countries on five continents [1].
Proponents of privatization of water will rub their hands reading the above data as well as consider that privatization is the only way of handling the water in poor Third World countries, which face the greatest water shortages problems.
They would even add, that in this way, everyone would have access to better services and could bypass the bureaucracy and corruption. A few years ago also they could support these arguments with powerful examples of cities and countries of successful implementation of water’s privatization. Unfortunately for them these examples are becoming fewer and fewer.
In August 2000, South Africa was hit by a cholera epidemic, which affected more than 250,000 people within two years and resulted in 300 deaths [2]. According to scholars, the outbreak epidemic was due to inability of residents to pay the price for clean water, so they resort to unsafe, inappropriate sources of drinking water. Bad outcome had the effort of water privatization in Bolivia where excessive tariff increases and the sealing of citizens private boreholes, resulted in widespread protests, whose repression led to the death of two people.
Finally, in 1988 the Thatcher government in England gave a large number of water organizations to private companies providing a range of facilities such as exemption from taxes, debt relief, etc.
These companies moved on unacceptable measures related to the establishment of a specific pre-paid card giving access to the water only by pay the fee in advance and also to the interruption of water supply to those who couldn’t be able to pay ,a fact which caused widespread reactions. Unfortunately the sufferings do not end here.
The same time that the World Bank is pushing governments to proceed with privatization, putting it as a term to countries loans, the European Commission sent letters to 72 countries asking them to “open their markets to water trade,” while earlier correspondence with representatives of large multinational water companies have leaked to the press. In France multinational executives and politicians prosecuted on charges of bribery and corruption. In the meanwhile ,the press has classified, Suez and Vivendi as excellent source of revenue for election and post-electoral political campaigns [3].( not to forget our neighborhood also, French company Suez already controls some of the shareholders of Thessaloniki Water Supply Organization and an increase of this percentage is expected! )
At the same time that large multinational negotiate million dollar agreements with governments, 1.1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and 1.8 million deaths per year due to diseases caused by inadequate drinking water [4]. With all these said, those who understand what awaits us all, do.

Sources :
[1] ICIJ, The water barons, available on page
http://projects.publicintegrity.org/water/
[2] CBC News, Who’s hand on the tap? Available on page
http://www.cbc.ca/news/features/water/southafrica.html
[3] ICIJ, Water and power: The French connection, available on page
http://projects.publicintegrity.org/water/report.aspx?aid=47
[4] Annual Report of the United Nations for the problem of water scarcity

Initiative for the non privatization of water in Greece

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