Stop water privatisation

22 May 2007

Stop water privatisation

Speech delivered by Harry van Bommel (MP) at the International Civil Society Forum “Stop water privatisation – Alternatives to the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) in The Hague, Tuesday May 22nd 2007

Dear Friends,

Harry van BommelThe fight for worldwide access to clean and safe drinkingwater is part of the fight for human rights. It should include the fight against privatisation because today we know that privatisation does not help in providing more people access to water. Since it is also one of the Millennium Development Goals we are obliged to help and reach that goal and thereby helping people in improving their sanity and in fighting poverty. In this struggle North and South must find eachother because we both have to challenge our governments and our private enterprises.

Many reports have proven that water privatisation is not a solution but a problem. For instance the report ‘Down the Drain’ from the World Development Movement on how aid for the watersector reform could be better spent clearly shows that waterprivatisation:

  • Doesn’t really generate private investment but attracts money from donors and governments and Worldbank
  • Doesn’t really result in poverty reduction
  • Ignores the rural areas. I have seen this with my own eyes a couple of years ago when I went on a fieldstudy in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where they planned to privatise the watersupply.
  • Leads to huge expenditure on public relations activities and technical assistance

There are good alternatives for water privatisation and some of them are supported by the report ‘Down the Drain’. Just to mention a few that have the support of my party:

  • Donors and governments must review their emphasis on water privatisation
  • Make up for the past decade of underinvestment
  • Public finance in paying for investments water
  • Analyse how to extract the most value out of public finance in order to speed up progress towards reaching the MDG’s

Public-public partnership could serve as an alternative for water privatisation. I am very sorry that I was not able to attend the earlier sessions in which casestudies on public-public partnerships were presented. I do know however that these alternatives have many different forms e.g. North-South partnerships, public-NGO partnerships and so on.

About a month ago my party suggested that The Netherlands withdraw from institutions that are solely oriented on privatisation. We asked our new minister for Development Co-operation to withdraw from PPIAF. Just as Norway has done and, as I learned today, Italy is doing right now. We were astonished by the fact that our new minister Koenders, from the Labour Party, strongly advised against our proposal. He even accused us of trying to act against the benefit op the poor for ideological reasons. In my point of view it is rather the other way round. For ideological reasons our minister for Development Co-operation accepts that water privatisation has results that are not in the benefit of the poor. We will therefore continue to put the fight against water privitisation high on the political agenda. I know you will do the same and that we will be successful in the end!

Thank you for your attention.

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