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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Coming to a community near you: water privatized, millions thirst

Water, water everywhere for the few: Privatizers enrich themselves deepening poverty of millions
Excerpt, editing by Carolyn Bennett

For twenty years, aid donors have been pushing poor countries to privatize their basic services and ‘liberalize’ their economies. 

Conditions attached to aid and debt relief have been combined with technical assistance and other forms of “knowledge transfer” to ensure that recipient countries comply with donor demands. [Report by England and Wales charity ActionAid]

Cautionary tale
Notes from Action Aid Report’s conclusions

Disregarding public opposition and failing to take into account potentially negative consequences to poor people, the World Bank, particularly, has continued “to push for risky and unproven economic ‘reforms’ such as water privatization.”

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam

One of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania is doubly burdened with thousands of refugees fleeing regional wars and conflicts. And IFIs take by force.

One of the main aims of IFIs’ privatization project leveled against Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, according to the Action Aid report, “has been to increase Dar es Salaam’s population’s ‘willingness to pay’ (force them to pay) for water. Yet those designing and implementing the reforms seem to have paid scant attention to the fact that 80 percent of Dar es Salaam’s residents are poor.” For these people, “‘unwillingness’ to pay could in fact be ‘inability’ to pay. 

Those forced to pay for water are likely to have to forgo other basic essentials such as food or education – a burden which will most likely fall most heavily on women and girls.

Most poor people do not have direct water connections and rely largely on neighbors or water vendors.

As prices go up, and metering means that every single drop of water is charged for, they are likely to suffer most from the ‘reforms’.

There is already evidence that poor households are shifting toward unsafe water sources, with serious consequences for their family’s health.

“Meanwhile, it is abundantly clear that the ‘pro-poor’ measures, ostensibly designed to increase water access for poor households, will only benefit a very select few, if anyone at all. …

Action Aid believes 

it is time for donors to end the practice of tying IFI (International financial institutions) loans, bilateral aid and debt relief to such risky and unproven policies.”
What donors (World Bank and others) should do, Action Aid says, is (a) “restrict conditionality to what is necessary to ensure that aid is spent on those it is intended to benefit; and (b) give countries the space to develop locally grown solutions that meet poor people’s needs.”

Sources and notes

“Turning off the taps: Donor conditionality and water privatisation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania” (from Conclusion “Water privatisation in Dar: the role of donor conditionality”), 2004 Report by  ActionAid, a registered charity (number 274467) and a company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales (number 1295174),  https://www.actionaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/turningoffthetaps.pdf


BBC Tanzania Profile June 18, 2013 excerpt: One of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania hosts thousands of refugees from conflict in the neighboring Great Lakes region, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14095776

Tanzania /ˌtænzəˈniːə/, officially the United Republic of Tanzania (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country’s eastern border is formed by the Indian Ocean. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is in northeastern Tanzania.

The official capital of Tanzania since 1996 has been Dodoma where the National Assembly and some government offices are located; between independence and 1996, the main coastal city of Dar es Salaam served as the country’s political capital. Dar es Salaam remains Tanzania’s principal commercial city and is the main location of most government institutions. It is also the principal port of the country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanzania


International financial institutions (IFIs) are financial institutions that have been established (or chartered) by more than one country, and hence are subjects of international law. Their owners or shareholders are generally national governments, although other international institutions and other organizations occasionally figure as shareholders. The most prominent IFIs are creations of multiple nations, although some bilateral financial institutions (created by two countries) exist and are technically IFIs. Many of these are multilateral development banks (MDB). The following are usually classified as the main MDBs: World Bank; European Investment Bank (EIB); Asian Development Bank (ADB); European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB, IADB); African Development Bank (AfDB); Islamic Development Bank (IsDB),  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_financial_institutions


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