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EU water policy deluged with critics

Critics of the European Commission’s promotion of water privatisation have joined together in a worldwide call to take urgent action to tackle the global water crisis.

Today’s advert in the /European Voice/, placed in the run up to World Water Day, has been endorsed by over 45 civil society and labour organisations from around the globe.

The coalition is calling for an end to the use of aid money to facilitate private sector involvement in water and sanitation services in poor countries and for the European Commission to drop requests for market access in the area of water services within international trade talks.

Instead, the coalition would like to see greatly increased aid and public investment in the water and sanitation sector, backed up by support for the development of strong public utilities in the global South through ‘public-public partnerships’ which would enable the exchange of expertise between public providers, working hand-in-hand with local communities.

“The clock is ticking for donors like the European Commission to take action on the humanitarian and ecological water crisis that leaves one billion people without access to clean water. The failed privatisation projects in many places from Bolivia to the Philippines show that private is not necessarily better than public. Donors like the European Commission should recognise that 90% of the water supply worldwide is still operated and managed by public water utilities. In the global South, there is much evidence that it is possible to improve public water delivery, and that their weaknesses and deficiencies are not terminal”, said Mary Ann Manahan, a researcher with Focus on the Global South, who is based in the Philippines.

“Just in the last few weeks we have learnt that one of the EU Development Commissioner’s special advisers is also a director of water multinational Suez. It is clearly time for a change of approach, one that recognises access to water as a human right and which gives poor countries the support needed to make this right a reality on the ground”, says Vicky Cann, Policy Officer, World Development Movement.

Issued by the World Development Movement

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